Animals Have Rights Just Like People Do, India Court Rules


By: Susan Bird, Care2

June 11, 2019


A judge in India has ruled that animals, like people, deserve decent treatment and have rights of their own. He held that animals must receive the “corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.”


Justice Rajiv Sharma wrote the decision for the Punjab and Haryana High Court. You might recognize his name. He’s the same judge who, in 2018 as a justice of the Uttarakhand High Court, issued a ruling that animals have “distinct personas with corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person.”


Plus, remember the 2017 Indian case that decided the Ganges and Yamuna rivers plus their tributaries and streams were living entities? Sharma was one of the members of the court that issued that decision. But the decision was later overturned by India’s Supreme Court.


Clearly, Sharma is deeply moved by the plight of animals in his country. He understands — as many of us do — that animals are sentient individuals just as deserving of respect and legal personhood as any human. Luckily, he’s in a position to do something about that.


The opinion in this case is filled with lovely language about animals and what they deserve from humans. The opinion’s reach includes the “entire animal kingdom including avian and aquatic” animals.


“We have to show compassion towards all living creatures,” Sharma wrote. “Animals may be mute but we as a society have to speak on their behalf. No pain or agony should be caused to the animals. Cruelty to animals also causes psychological pain to them.”


Not only do animals have the right to live without pain, fear or discomfort, but humans in the Indian state of Haryana are to serve “in loco parentis” to the animals. This means humans must take on the status of an adult responsible for the animals’ welfare, as a parent would be responsible for a child.


Of course, this ruling doesn’t mean animals can’t be owned or used for work. But it does provide some sensible rules to keep people from mistreating their animals. Some of those rules include: