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Animals may not have Rights, but they cannot be subjected to Cruelty by Humans: Supreme Court

The apex court by its May 7, 2014, order had banned Tamil Nadu's centuries-old Jallikattu -- bull fights -- saying that bulls could not be used as performing animals

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Jallikattu Bull-fight. Flickr
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New Delhi, November 10, 2016: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said animals may not have rights but they cannot be subjected to cruelty by humans.

Further hammering the point, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said what is embedded in the Constitution and the statutes cannot be taken away by a notification.

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“How can you take away something that is constitutionally embedded,” the court asked, pointing out that January 7 notification permitting the “use of bulls for Jallikattu” and cart race took away the very basis of May 7, 2014, Supreme Court judgment that had banned Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu.
Supreme Court Judge Dipak Misra. Youtube
Supreme Court Judge Dipak Misra. Youtube

In an observation, the bench asked Tamil Nadu counsel that on one hand you are worshiping a cow describing her as holy, and on the other hand you are torturing bulls. “How is this?”

The January 7 notification, while retaining bulls in the list of animals prohibited from being used for public performances or exhibition has carved out an exception permitting their use for Jallikattu with a rider that they would not be inflicted with any cruelty.

The apex court by its May 7, 2014, order had banned Tamil Nadu’s centuries-old Jallikattu — bull fights — saying that bulls could not be used as performing animals, either for the Jallikattu events or bullock cart races.

Holding that Jallikattu, bullock cart race and such events per se violate the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals Act, the apex court by its May 7, 2014, verdict had said: “Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many of the countries around the world, so as to protect their dignity and honour.”

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The court’s observations came in the course of hearing of a batch of petitions by NGOs Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, Animal Equality, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals India, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, the Animal Welfare Board of India, and animal right activist Gauri Maulekhi challenging the notification.

Even as Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha sought to defend the state notification, Justice Nariman said that the notification purported to take away the very basis of the 2014 judgment.

“Do you remove the very basis of the (2014) judgment? It is based and founded on constitutional provision, we don’t think you will be able to remove,” bench told Narasimha. “How does a bull get trained? Once an animal is prohibited for being used for entertainment, then how you can have a proviso indirectly providing for other purposes (Jallikattu)?”

The bench observed, “Either you allow (public performances or exhibition of bulls) or you completely prohibit it, you can’t have both.”

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As Tamil Nadu told the court that the hearing on the plea challenging January 7 notification should take place only after its review petition seeking recall of the 2014 verdict is decided, the bench said that it would hear both pleas — for the recall of 2014 verdict and batch of petitions challenging January 7 notification — on November 16. (IANS)

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India Gets A Win, Supreme Court Decriminalizes Homosexuality

In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.

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SC decriminalises homosexuality, victory for gay rights. Pixabay

 In a historic verdict, the Supreme Court on Thursday decriminalised homosexuality between consenting adults by declaring Section 377, the penal provision which criminalised gay sex, as “manifestly arbitrary”.

In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra partially struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional.

The bench said it is no longer an offence for LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transsexual, intersex and queer/questioning) community to engage in consensual sex between two adults in private.

Reading out the judgment, Chief Justice Misra said attitudes and mentality have to change to accept others’ identity and accept what they are, and not what they should be.

Homosexuality, India
LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow.
Pixabay

“It is the constitutional and not social morality which will prevail,” said the court.

The verdict sparked celebrations in the LGBTIQ community across India even as the judgment was being read out. Many of the community members who had assembled outside the apex court jumped in joy and distributed sweets.

Chief Justice Misra said consensual sex between adults in a private space, which is not harmful to women or children, cannot be denied as it is a matter of individual choice.

Section 377 will not apply to consensual same-sex acts between homosexuals, heterosexuals, lesbians, the court said, clarifying that sexual act without consent and bestiality will continue to be an offence under section 377.

“An individual has full liberty over his or her body and his or her sexual orientation is a matter of one’s choice,” said the Chief Justice.

“Time to bid adieu to prejudicial perceptions deeply ingrained in social mindset. Time to empower LGBTIQ community against discrimination. They should be allowed to make their choices,” he added.

Homosexuality, India
In separate but unanimous verdicts, a five-judge Constitution Bench struck down Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as unconstitutional. Pixabay

 

In a concurring judgement, Justice Nariman said homosexuality is “not a mental disorder or disease”.

He said the LGBTIQ community has an equal right to live with dignity and are entitled to equal protection of law. He directed the Centre to give wide publicity to this judgment to remove the stigma attached to homosexuality.

Justice Chandrachud said to deny the LGBTIQ community their right to sexual orientation is a denial of their citizenship and a violation of their privacy.

“They cannot be pushed into obscurity by an oppressive colonial legislation… Sexual minorities in India have lived in fear, hiding as second class citizens,” said Justice Chandrachud, adding “the state has no business to intrude on such matters”.

Justice Indu Malhotra said that history owes an apology to the LGBTIQ community for all that they have suffered on account of the ignorance of the majority about homosexuality.

“LGBTIQ people have a right to live unshackled from the shadow,” she said.

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The Supreme Court verdict, which overruled its own earlier judgment, assumes significance as in the earlier round of litigation in 2013, the top court had reversed a Delhi High Court ruling decriminalising homosexuality.

The Delhi High Court bench, headed by then Chief Justice A.P. Shah, had in July 2009 legalised homosexual acts between consenting adults by overturning the 149-year-old law — finding it unconstitutional and a hurdle in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In December 2013, a Supreme Court bench comprising Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya in the Suresh Kumar Koushal and another vs Naz Foundation and others case, had set aside the high court’s judgment and said that it was for the legislature to look into desirability of deleting section 377 of IPC.

The matter was subsequently resurrected in July 2016, when a fresh petition was filed by members of the LGBTIQ community — dancer N.S. Johar, journalist Sunil Mehra, chef Ritu Dalmia, hotelier Aman Nath and business executive Ayesha Kapur — which was then marked to the Constitution Bench by a Division Bench.

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The reference was made on the basis of submission that it was the first time that individuals directly affected by the provision were approaching the court.

Among the petitioners are a batch of current and former students of Indian Institutes of Technology. Claiming to represent more than 350 LGBTIQ alumni, students, staff and faculty from the IITs, the petitioners said that the existence of Section 377 had caused them “mental trauma and illnesses, such as clinical depression and anxiety and relegated some of them to second-class citizenship”. (IANS)