Creator: ANI | Credit: Anantha Krishnan Copyright: ANI

Does ownership of an animal justify cruelty shown to it

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Since early civilisations, animals are not only considered as an integral part in our country, but have also been worshiped.

According to Hindu mythology, Cows, tigers, lions, elephants, horses, bulls, snakes, monkeys have been worshipped. Animals have also been domesticated for both agriculture and companionship. However, over time our kinship with them has morphed into abuse in which the welfare of animals is highly compromised. Now we see animals purely for their utility in fact, a perception has been created that humans always have precedence over animals. It has now become common practice to inflict cruelty upon them.

As per our Vedas, Dharma-Shashtras in Sanatan Dharma, the teachings of the Quran, Hadiths in Islam, and the teachings of the Bible in Christianity, Animals are accorded similar status as
that of humans and have been recognized as conscious beings, and
cruelty towards any living being has been severely frowned upon, abhorred and castigated, and likewise in all cultures, religions and
ways of lives.

In the recent arguments against “Jallikattu” an ancient game of Tamil Nadu. Appearing before a Constitution Bench led by Justice K.M. Joseph, senior advocate Rakesh Dwivedi, for Tamil Nadu, in response to the question referred to the categorisation of cruelty within the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act itself.

He said how killing an animal for food was not considered cruelty in the law.

“It is not that we will not survive without mutton or fish. Vegans do,” Mr. Dwivedi said.

He indicated that by allowing killing for food, the Act itself recognised certain prevalent cultures where meat was a traditional part of the diet. The climate, environment and long habit would have defined the culture. A law cannot be brought to suddenly stop a long prevailing habit.

Likewise, Tamil Nadu argued that jallikattu was an ancient game and followed inherent rules.

Jallikattu was both a religious and cultural event celebrated by the people of Tamil Nadu and its influence extends beyond the confines of caste and creed, the State government argued in court.

Mr. Divan proposed, “Firstly, There is an expression called behavioural ethology – science of animal behaviour and, Secondly, There is biological integrity of the animal which comprises two elements – mental as well as physical.”

He further argued, “Science tells us that a manner in which a bull is structured as an animal is that if you are going to engage them in a highly stressful situation, they will seek to flee. Now, when you keep them in an enclosure, it amounts to cruelty. Converting a bull into a fighting animal, making it fight in whatever manner, by compelling it through all sorts of obnoxious means, amounts to cruel treatment. Having regards to the behaviour of the bull; the anatomy of the bull; with all the safeguards, it will still amount to cruel treatment. Bulls are not structured to fight.”

On the question of whether the practice could be protected under cultural and traditional rights of the people of Tamil Nadu, Mr. Divan argued,”Now there could be a tradition, a culture, but with all the protected measures, it would still amount to cruelty. These are not performing animals. It is one thing if the legislature felt that we have come to the conclusion that the scientific material relied on by the court in Nagaraj was wrong and so here is the material that is now the basis for us to change it or overturn it. But there is no such evidence on record placed by the legislature.”

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