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Justice that also makes space for the animal world

  • Published
    24th May, 2023

Context:

There are rising debates around the Jallikattu issue since the long time.

The Jallikattu Case

  • Animal Welfare Board of India vs Union of India: In this case, the validity of a Tamil Nadu law permitting the practice of jallikattu was put to challenge. However, the judgement falls short on delivering a robust jurisprudence for the future.
  • Nagaraja Case: Court stated that bulls could never be performing animals, that they were anatomically ill-suited for competition, and were effectively being forced into participating in a practice that caused them unnecessary pain and suffering. 
  • Amendments: To overcome the judgment, the Government of Tamil Nadu, in 2017, introduced a series of amendments to the 1960 Union law. Through these changes, the State ensured that jallikattu was altogether exempted from the protections that the statute offered.

A dissatisfactory and contradictory response

  • Judicial adventurism: It would, Court says, be an act of judicial adventurism to confer rights on animals that have otherwise been bestowed on human beings. 
  • Anvil of reasonableness: the Court then claims that the amending law can still be tested on an anvil of reasonableness that is contained in Article 14 of the Constitution.
  • Fundamental right: On a reading of the Constitution, the view that animals are not persons and therefore do not enjoy fundamental rights is not implausible. Thus it should be extended to the animals

Make it Intrinsic

  • Animal welfare: what we can do is to see how best to mend our conception of rights to partake basic requirements of animal welfare as intrinsic to our constitutional arrangement.
  • Respecting animal rights: Our own right to lead a meaningful life includes within it a right to live in a society that respects and treats animals with equal concern, to live in a world free of animal cruelty.
  • Collective obligation: we must see it as our collective obligation to extend our commitment to justice not only to human beings but to animals too.
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