Granting Animal Rights under the Indian Constitution: A Misplaced Approach? An Analysis in light of Union of India v. A Nagraja
Jessamine Therese Mathew & Ira Chadha-Sridhar*
Volume 7 Issue 3-4 (2014)
In May 2014, the Supreme Court of India delivered a sensational judgment banning certain bull-fighting practices. The Court, in its analysis, sought to bring animals under the protection of the rights discourse by stating that Article 21 of the Constitution of India could be applied to animal life. The Court stated that the term ‘life’ must be expansively interpreted. As animals form a crucial part of human beings’ environment, their rights must also be protected under Article 21. This paper seeks to address the deeper implications of this judgment by examining the viability of such an approach. It argues that bringing animals within the ambit of rights is not only incompatible with the traditional jurisprudence of rights, but may also be an ineffective method of addressing the larger issue of protecting animals. It recommends a shift to a duty-based approach towards animal welfare which is more likely to succeed in ensuring the safe and humane treatment of animals by humans.