Animals Were Just Given Legal Personhood by Indian High Court

The Punjab and Haryana High Court in India recently granted “legal person or entity” status to animals. The ruling means that animals in the state of Haryana will be given the “corresponding rights, duties, and liabilities of a living person.” It follows a 2018 landmark order by the same judge, Justice Rajiv Sharma, in Uttarakhand High Court “to protect and promote greater welfare of animals.” In his ruling, Justice Sharma said that animals cannot be treated as objects or property and are entitled to justice. “The corporations, Hindu idols, holy scriptures, rivers have been declared legal entities and thus, in order to protect and promote greater welfare of animals including avian and aquatic, animals are required to be conferred with the status of legal entity/legal person,” Justice Sharma said. “The animals should be healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behavior without pain, fear, and distress. They are entitled to justice. The animals cannot be treated as objects or property.” The judgments are awaiting ratification by India’s national Supreme Court.