To read part one first, click here.
In his Decision, at the end, Justice Radhakrishnan directs
– that the five freedoms be considered to be part of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and that they be safeguarded by the states.
– that no animal may be incited to fight against a human being or another animal.
– that the AWBI (Animal Welfare Board of India) and Governments should undertake education related to humane treatment of animals.
– that it is expected that Parliament will elevate the rights of animals to constitutional ones, “as is done by many of the countries around the world.”
– that the Act that was passed by Tamil Nadu to allow jallikattu to continue is in opposition to the PCA Act, and is therefore null and void. This means that jallikattu and bullock cart races are definitively banned.
So ends the cruelty of jallikattu and bullock cart racing. Blue Cross of India has been opposing the inhumane “sport” of jallikattu for the past forty years.
The Supreme Court ruling lays out clearly the major points supporting the rights of animals: the five freedoms, the obligation of Indian citizens to treat animals with kindness, and importantly, that animals have their own innate nature, honor, and dignity – quite independent of any value they may have to humans.
This is a step far ahead of the perception of animals as property which still forms the foundation of animal law in a number of countries, including the U.S.
Positive changes stemming from this Supreme Court ruling
Justice Radhakrishnan has now retired, this being his last case. His career on the bench was marked by great fairness and significant decisions that re-affirmed the rights of all human beings, and also of animals.
The Supreme Court jallikattu ruling carries with it a ripple effect that has already begun to bring about changes to the standing of animals in the law. On August 8, 2014, AWBI met in Chennai and worked on fine-tuning the new Animal Welfare Bill to bring it into line with the Supreme Court ruling.
The Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests was present at the meeting. AWBI falls under the Ministry of Environment and Forests. This was the 41st general meeting, and all the members of the AWBI were there.
The new bill will mandate the setting up of a National Animal Welfare Authority which will take on the functions of the AWBI and will be accorded much more authority for enforcement. Enforcement has been a weak link in India’s animal protection system.
This new bill will have to be passed by both houses of parliament, and if it’s passed by only one, will have to go back to the first house again to be reconsidered. It’s a prolonged process.
One of the key measures in the new bill will be that animal law will extend not just to prevention of cruelty, but it will be spelled out that the five freedoms of the animal must be guaranteed.
The PCA Act of 1960
Animal laws in India are already among the most enlightened in the world. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was passed, in 1960, thanks largely to the work of Rukmini Devi Arundale, well known as a dancer and choreographer of Indian classical dance, as well as an animal advocate. The PCA Act set up the first Animal Welfare Board of India, and she became its first Chairperson.
The Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) was set up at the request of the AWBI and has brought about reforms to ameliorate the situation of laboratory animals.
The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 banned hunting throughout India and gave protective status to all wildlife.
Dr. S. Chinny Krishna has served on the Animal Welfare Board of India for several terms, and has been the Board’s Vice-Chairman from 2000 to 2003 and again since 2010. Along with many others, like Parliamentarian Maneka Gandhi, who have resolutely pursued the cause of animal welfare in India for many decades, Dr. Krishna has played a central role in creating the framework of Indian Animal Protection Laws, which set an example for the world in terms of their far-reaching scope and their recognition that animals have rights and intrinsic value.
This system of laws reflects the most ancient traditions of India, such as the spiritual principle of “ahimsa” or “do no harm.”
To visit the Facebook page of the Animal Welfare Board of India, click here.
Photos: Sharon St Joan
Top photo: Two bulls (not jallikattu bulls) rescued by Blue Cross of India
Second photo: A painting of Nandi, the vahana of Shiva, in south India.
Third photo: Dr. S. Chinny Krishna with Shyama