The judgment of Apex Court in this case is
significant in three ways, firstly, the practice of Jallikattu and Bullockcart
race is declared as violative of the provisions of PCA Act. Secondly, the Court
declared that Bulls are not a performing animal. Thirdly, the Court stated the
animal life should be included within the meaning of Article 21 of the Indian
Constitution. The first two points are not controversial as it is in accordance
with the law of the land. However, the third point, i.e. the inclusion of
animal life under article 21 may be a ground for serious criticisms. Some of
the possible arguments are discussed hereunder. The Article 21 of the
Constitution provides that, “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal
liberty except according to procedure established by law.” The persons
here include both natural and juridical persons. This is because, according to
Indian Penal Code, ‘the word “person includes any company or association or
body of persons, whether incorporated or not8 . The General Clauses Act, 1897
also defines, the word person as any company or association or body of
individuals, whether incorporated or not9 . Thus a joint reading of these 8 See
Section 11 of the Code. 9 See Section 3 (39) of the Act. 23 IND I A N JOU R N
3, ISSUE 4, DECEMBER 2015 definitions shows that, the word person should be
confined to natural persons and juridical persons. When the scope of Article 21
to animals, the question arises whether they can be treated as persons? If the
answer is negative the extension of Article 21 to animals is a futile attempt.
The rights are generally being conferred to persons who are being capable of
reason and choice. Animals, since they lack reason, are not persons, and
therefore are categorized as things. Moreover, only a human has the power to
deal with other members of his own species by voluntary means: rational
persuasion and a code of morality rather than physical force. So also under
traditional conceptions of law, animals were typically regarded as objects of
rights vested in their human owners but not as the holders of rights against
human beings10 . The animals are not capable of exercising claims against others,
or comprehending the rules of moral duty. Therefore, animals have no rights.
Since human beings are the only beings capable of exercising claims against
others, only human beings have rights 11 . Therefore, conferring a right to an
entity which does not have a reason is impermissible. The object of the
fundamental right under Article 21 is to prevent encroachment upon personal
liberty and deprivation of life except according to procedure established by
law. It clearly means that this fundamental right has been provided against
state only. If an act of private individual amounts to encroachment upon the
personal liberty or deprivation of life of other person, such violation would
not fall under the parameters set for the Article 21. In such a case the remedy
for aggrieved person would be either under Article 226 of the 10 Richard A.
Epstein, “Animals as Objects, or Subjects, of Rights”, Working Paper No. 171,
(2002). Available at
cs, visited on 21. 10. 2014. 11 Carl Cohen, “The Case for the Use of Animals in
Biomedical Research”, The New England Journal of Medicine 314 (1986) 865-869.
: 1.116 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 4, DECEMBER 2015 constitution or under general law12.
Thus in case where State involves in any cruel practices against animals, the
Article 21 may provide remedy. Generally private parties are at the forefront
of cruel practices against animals. This means that, the extension of Article
21 is not worth for protection of animals. Further, in various cases the
Hon’ble Supreme Court and various High Courts have observed the Article 21
contains everything connected with human dignity. The dynamic interpretations
given by Courts to Article 21 are to establish new facets of right to life
which are essential for a decent life. The Courts repeatedly pointed out in
various cases life means not a mere animal existence. If the life under article
21 includes animal life also, then this would undermine the various landmark
judgments in which Courts has stated Article 21 protects all ingredients which
makes a man’s life meaningful and worth living. The life under Article 21, if
covers animal right also, then it will have a severe impact in the society. No
one can chain an animal, kill, eat, etc. of any animal. This would lead to
imbalance in the society. It is an illusion to think both animal and human gets
same status in the society. These trends of conferring fundamental rights to
animals continues any one file a case representing any animal and seek remedy
for violation of various rights already established under Article 21. So also
another pertinent question arise here is animal includes various category of
animals, out of these which category can be given the rights and which can be
excluded. It is to be noted here that, if life includes animal life, the
literal interpretation presupposes all animals are entitled to get similar
rights. Moreover, the fundamental rights are considered as natural rights which
have its origin in natural law theories. It is generally agreed that natural
rights are inherent in human beings and cannot be 12 Vidhan Maheshwari,
“Article 21 of the Constitution of India – The Expanding Horizons”, available
at, visited on 21. 10.
2014. 25 IND I A N JOU R N AL O F LE G AL PHI L O SO PHY ISSN : 2347- 4963;
IMPACT FACTOR : 1.116 VOLUME 3, ISSUE 4, DECEMBER 2015 taken away by State13.
Hence, it can be argued that, since natural rights are applicable only to human
beings, the extension of such rights to animals cannot be justified. It is a
hard reality that, though there are various laws for the protection of animals
in India, the cruel practices against animals are in rise. The law of the land
provides for protection and humane treatment of animals, as citizens of India
it is our fundamental duty to enforce these laws to protect the helpless
animals who suffers in name of Religion, Science, Health, Commerce etc 14 .
Protection of animals is not possible by the government authorities alone.
There should be a concern from the mind of all humans that, the animals, they
are also the owners of this earth and it is the duty of humans to ensure
minimum or no suffering to animals for human pleasure.