In writ petition WP(C). TMP-28 OF 2020 the Kerala High Court has specified that the essential list of food/ fodder for milch animals includes food for pets and a self declaration is sufficient for movement to procure the same. The High Court judgement of one state is by law applicable to all States in the Union of India unless it is explicitly set aside by another high court or the supreme court of India.
Please find below the judgement text and images files for your reference.
A.K. JAYASANKARAN NAMBIAR, J.
SHAJI P. CHALY, J.
WP(C). TMP-28 OF 2020
Dated this the 6th day of April, 2020
A.K. Jayasankaran Nambiar. J.
- The enforcement of a lock down period, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, has brought with it a fair share of litigation before this court, reminding us, once again, that there can never be a lock down of the judicial institution, and that its doors must always be opened to the knocks of hapless citizens.
- Today, however, we have been called upon to respond to the desperate purrs of three felines, whose owner, the petitioner before us, alleges that he was denied a vehicle pass to venture out and purchase “Meo-Persian” biscuits for his cats. Appearing before us through video conferencing, he submits that, as a pure vegetarian, he does not cook non-vegetarian food in his house and, over the years, his cats have been fed with the above biscuits and they cannot do without them. He states that one packet of 7 kilograms of “Meo-Persian” Biscuits would see his feline friends through the rest of the lock down period, and that the said biscuits are available for purchase at the Cochin Pet Hospital that is some distance away from his home. His request for an online pass was, however, rejected by the police authorities without assigning any reasons.
- In his writ petition, the petitioner relies on the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, as also the judgment of the Supreme Court in Animal Welfare Board of India v A. Nagaraja – 2014 (7) SCC 547 to contend that animals too have rights, including a fundamental right to life, relatable to Article 21 of our Constitution, and hence the police authorities cannot refuse him a pass for procuring cat food. He also points out that, in the guidelines issued by the Central Government in the Ministry of Home Affairs, “animal feed and fodder” have been included as “essential items” in respect of which movement is permitted during the lockdown period.
- We have heard the petitioner, Sri. N.Prakash and Sri. Ranjith Thampan, the learned Additional Advocate General, in the matter.
- Over the last seven decades of working our democratic Constitution, we have focused, primarily, on the rights available to our citizens. We have conveniently forgotten that the human species is not alone on this planet and that there are other claimants to the bounty that nature has to offer. It was only after two and half decades of giving to ourselves our Constitution that, We The People of India, amended it, to insert therein a chapter on Fundamental Duties. Article 51 A (g), in Part IVA of our Constitution, mandates that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures. To inculcate a healthy respect for other living creatures, and to recognise the rights enuring in them, is thus no longer a matter of choice for our citizenry, but a solemn duty under the Constitution that governs us all.
- Although there are provisions in our penal code that make it a punishable offence to kill or injure any animal, it was the enactment of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in 1960 that made express provisions for the welfare of animals. In the light of the Constitutional amendment that introduced Article 51 A (g), a further need was felt for a renewed interpretation of the provisions of the 1960 Act. The decision of the Supreme Court in Nagaraja (Supra), manifests this shift in judicial thinking, from one of merely safeguarding animal welfare, to recognizing a right and dignity in animals to live lives free from cruelty. Taking cue from the guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation of Animal Health (OIE), of which our Country is a member, it was held that the five internationally recognised freedoms for animals viz.
(i) freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition,
(ii) freedom from fear and distress,
(iii) freedom from physical and thermal discomfort,
(iv) freedom from pain, injury and disease and
(v) freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour, find a place in Sections 3 and 11 of the PCA Act and they are for animals, similar to the rights guaranteed to the citizens of this country under Part Ill of our Constitution. It was observed that the rights and freedoms guaranteed to the animals under Sections 3 and 11 of the PCA Act have to be read along with Articles 51 A (g) and (h) of the Constitution which is the magna carta of animal rights.
- The above short elucidation of the legal position in our country, on the subject of animal rights, should suffice to recognise the right of the petitioner herein, to obtain a pass from the police authorities for procuring food for his feline friends.
- Sri. Ranjith Thampan, the learned Additional Advocate General, would submit that, in view of the clear inclusion of “animal feed and fodder” as “essential items” in respect of which movement is permitted during the lockdown period, it would suffice if the petitioner carries a self declaration stating that his movement to Kadavanthara is for procuring animal feed. Taking note of this submission, we allow the writ petition by directing the respondents to permit the petitioner to travel to Kadavanthara, Kochi, to procure the said item of cat food, on his producing a self-declaration stating the purpose of his travel, along with a copy of this judgment.
Before parting with this case, we might observe, in a lighter vein, that while we are happy to have come to the aid of the felines in this case, we are also certain that our directions will help avert a “CATastrophe” in the petitioner’s home.
Digitally Signed by
Justice A K JAYASAN NAMBIAR
Date: 2020.00 06:01:34 1ST
Digitally Signed by
JUSTICE SHAJI P. CHALY
Date: 2020.994 06:05:54 1ST
SHAJI P. CHALY
Download the full order PDF here:
Please see below the two recent Central Government notifications No.9-16/2019-20/PCA and No.40-3/2020-DM-I(A) stating food for animals is an essential item.