India court rules in favor of legal person status for all animals

“A single judge bench of India’s Punjab and Haryana High Court held on Friday that the 'entire animal kingdom including avian and aquatic' species has a 'distinct legal persona with corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person.'” - Jurist

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Aaron Blumer's picture


Curious... I wonder what "duties" the animals have and how they're going to hold them accountable for fulfilling them. ... the "liabilities" idea, too: how will people collect damages from the misbehaving critters?

Bert Perry's picture

Read literally, wouldn't it prohibit anything harming an animal?  Imagine trying to plow your field without killing a few worms.  I'm guessing this is primarily a way of addressing some horrendous animal abuse issues and does not translate terribly well from the original Punjabi or Hindi. 

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Aaron Blumer's picture


I'm sure there is a whole lot of cultural and jurisprudential history that makes this not exactly what it sounds like. 

Then again, maybe it's a case of "judge makes a bad ruling that a higher court will fix."

M. Osborne's picture

Following the links and reading some of the documents doesn't make this any more comprehensible.

Apparently this ruling isn't a brand new thought in their jurisprudence. There's a 2014 case that relied on two sections of the constitution, one (51(a)(g & h)) that talks about citizens' duties toward the environment; and one (21(a)) that talks about rights of persons (and they applied those rights to animals). Why the court in the 2014 case felt it necessary to go beyond what the constitution says in article 51 is beyond me; the doc linked has only extracts.

But here's 51A(g & h) from the constitution:

51A. It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—
g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;

Why is that insufficient? 

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA