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Plea for ‘legal entity’ status to animals

Topics Covered: Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary Ministries and Departments of the Government; pressure groups and formal/informal associations and their role in the Polity.

Plea for ‘legal entity’ status to animals:


Context:

The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a petition seeking “legal entity” status to the entire animal kingdom.

What’s the demand?

The demand is to give animals a “legal personality”. This means bestowing on animals, by judicial direction, the capacity to sue and be sued in courts of law.

  • This mainly stems from SC’s interpretation of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, with the effect the word “life” includes “all forms of life, including animal life, which are necessary for human life.”

Why this demand?

  • While referring to recent reported incidents of cruelty on animals in the country, the plea has said that such incidents have enraged many and raised a question as to whether existing laws are sufficient enough to protect animals from possible abuse and cruelty.
  • It alleged the rights of animals exist only on paper due to their lack of implementation and enforcement.
  • Besides, the plea said that legal status has been accorded to animals in two recent verdicts rendered by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Uttarakhand High Court.

What Next?

The Court has issued notices to the Centre and others seeking their replies on the petition.

What is a legal entity?

A legal entity means entity which acts like a natural person but only through a designated person, whose acts are processed within the ambit of law.

Previous Instances:

  1. In 2018, a bench presided over by justice Sharma had accorded the status of “legal person or entity” to animals in Haryana.
  2. In Uttarakhand high court, justice Sharma was part of a bench in 2017, which declared the Ganga and Yamuna as living entities, a verdict that was later stayed by the Supreme Court.
  3. In 2018, Uttarakhand high court declared the entire animal kingdom, including birds and aquatic animals, as a legal entity.
  4. In June 2019, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ruled that all animals, birds and aquatic life in Haryana would be accorded the status of legal persons or entities.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is a legal entity?
  2. Powers enjoyed by legal entities.
  3. Article 21 of the Indian constitution.
  4. Which High Courts have declared the entire animal kingdom, including birds and aquatic animals, as a legal entity?

Mains Link:

What are the implications of declaring the entire animal kingdom, including birds and aquatic animals, as a legal entity? Discuss.

Sources: the Hindu.