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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : Preventing animal cruelty is a duty of the state

 

Source: The Hindu

 

  • Prelims: Jallikattu, Article 14, Article 21, Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), 1960 etc
  • Mains GS Paper I and II: Government policies and interventions for development of various sectors and issues arising out of them etc

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on the validity of Tamil Nadu’s law permitting the practice of jallikattu in the State.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

Jallikattu:

 

Jallikattu in Court:

       

 

Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja(2014):

  • Supreme Court declared jallikattu illegitimate
  • Court said: The practice was cruel and caused the animal unnecessary pain and suffering.

 

Importance of Judgement:

  • The hearings underlined the deficiencies inherent in the Constitution when it comes to addressing questions of animal welfare.

 

Animal welfare in Constitution:

  • Fundamental rights: They are explicitly conferred on animals.
  • Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty): They are bestowed on persons.
    • Persons” means human beings or associations of human beings, such as corporations, partnerships, trusts etc
  • Article 48: To prohibit the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle and to improve their breed.
  • Article 48A: To protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wildlife.
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), 1960: It criminalizes several types of actions that cause cruelty to animals.
    • It exempts use of animals for experiments with a view to securing medical advancement.

 

Jallikattu through Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), 1960:

  • Nagaraja case: Court said, jallikattu falls within the boundaries of the actions forbidden by the PCA Act.
  • Tamil Nadu amended the PCA Act in 2017: It specifically excluded jallikattu from the confines of the statute’s various protections.
    • It secured the President’s authority for the law.

 

Judicial review of legislation can be made on two grounds:

  • Whether the legislature possesses the competence to enact the law
  • Whether the law violates one or the other of the fundamental rights delineated in Part III of the Constitution.

 

Arguments of petitioners:

  • Both the Union and the State legislatures have equal power to make laws on ‘prevention of animal cruelty as it is in Concurrent List.
  • In A. Nagaraja case:
    • Jallikattu, in and by itself, amounted to a violation of the:
      • Existing provisions of the PCA Act
      • Fundamental duty contained in Article 51A(g).
      • The court held, had a direct bearing on the right to life contained in Article 21.

 

 

Way Forward

  • Right in Article 21 is conferred only on human beings: But the expanded meaning of the word “life” now included a right against disturbance to the basic environment ought to mean that animal life must also be treated with “intrinsic worth, honor and dignity.
  • On any reasonable reading of the Constitution: It might be difficult to hold that animals are promised rights to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and equality under Article 14.
  • Philosopher Martha Nussbaum: Our duty of care towards animals needs to hardly originate out of our similarities to them.
    • We must instead see “each form of animal life in all its beauty and strangeness.”
  • The approach that maintains a greater fidelity to our Constitution’s text and values, is to see it in the context of our own right to live in a world that treats animals with equal concern.
  • Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan: no doubt constitution safeguards only the rights of human beings, but the word “life” is today understood to mean something more than mere existence; it means an existence that allows us, among other things, to live in a clean and healthy environment.
  • Legislating to prevent animal cruelty is no longer an option, it transforms into a binding duty cast on the state.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

Q. ‘Constitutional Morality’ is rooted in the Constitution itself and is founded on its essential facets. Explain the doctrine of ‘Constitutional Morality’ with the help of relevant judicial decisions.(UPSC 2021) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)