LCI Learning

Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share on LinkedIn

Share on Email

Share More

Animals Have A Right To Life And Bodily Integrity, Honour And Dignity: P&H HC

Adv. Sanjeev Sirohi ,
  15 February 2024       Share Bookmark

Court :
Punjab and Haryana High Court
Brief :
While taking the most serious note of the lives of animals to be saved from being killed, the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh in a most learned, laudable, landmark, logical and latest judgment titled Sohan Singh Vs State of Punjab and others in CRM-M-60678-2022 (O/M) and cited in Neutral Citation No. : 2024:PHHC:014284 that was pronounced just recently on 29.01.2024 declined to quash an FIR that had been lodged against a bus driver who smashed his vehicle into a calved and young buffalo which culminated in the death of the one and so also the injury of another. It must be noted that the petitioner was accused of driving a bus in a rash and negligent manner at a high speed and smashing the bus into buffaloes/calves going on the side of the road, which eventually resulted in the death of one of the buffalo and so also injury to another. We must note that the complainant had untied the buffaloes from his house and tied them in the fields where the accident occurred.
Citation :
Citation No. : 2024:PHHC:014284

While taking the most serious note of the lives of animals to be saved from being killed, the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh in a most learned, laudable, landmark, logical and latest judgment titled Sohan Singh Vs State of Punjab and others in CRM-M-60678-2022 (O/M) and cited in Neutral Citation No. : 2024:PHHC:014284 that was pronounced just recently on 29.01.2024 declined to quash an FIR that had been lodged against a bus driver who smashed his vehicle into a calved and young buffalo which culminated in the death of the one and so also the injury of another. It must be noted that the petitioner was accused of driving a bus in a rash and negligent manner at a high speed and smashing the bus into buffaloes/calves going on the side of the road, which eventually resulted in the death of one of the buffalo and so also injury to another. We must note that the complainant had untied the buffaloes from his house and tied them in the fields where the accident occurred.

It deserves mentioning that the petitioner claimed that he had entered into a compromise with the complaint vide a compromise deed. The petitioner had filed a petition under Section 482 CrPC seeking to quash an FIR that had been registered for offences under Sections 279 and 429 of the IPC. Most of all, the Single Judge Bench compromising of Hon'ble Mr Justice Harsh Bunger of Chandigarh High Court minced absolutely no words to unequivocally hold that, "In my view, animals may be mute but we as a society have to speak on their behalf and no pain or agony should be caused to the animals. Cruelty to animals also cause psychological pain to them. Animals breathe like humans and have emotions; they require food, water, shelter, normal behavior, medical care, self-determination."

We need to note that the Chandigarh High Court remarked that the compromise deed indicated that the charges had already been framed against the petitioner and some of the prosecution witnesses were already examined. The Court stated unequivocally that animals cannot be treated merely as property because animals have "a right to life and bodily integrity, honour and dignity." The Court mandated that, "It will not be open for this Court to exercise its power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing of FIR only on the basis of compromise." Accordingly, we see that the Punjab and Haryana High Court thus very rightly rejected the petition.

At the very outset, this brief, brilliant, bold and balanced judgment authored by the Single Judge Bench compromising of Hon'ble Mr Justice Harsh Bunger of Chandigarh High Court sets the ball in motion by first and foremost putting forth in para 1 that, "Petitioner (Sohan Singh) has filed the instant petition under Section 482 Cr.P.C. seeking quashing of FIR No. 168 dated 31.10.2016 (Annexure P-1) registered under Sections 279, 429 IPC at Police Station Dirba, District Sangrur on the basis of compromise dated 16.12.2022 (Annexure P-2)."

To put things in perspective, the Bench while elaborating on the facts of the case envisages in para 2 that, "Briefly, respondent No. 2 (Harbhol Singh son of Nahar Singh) got registered aforesaid FIR wherein it was stated that on 31.10.2016, his uncle (chacha), namely, Gurcharan Singh son of Siba Singh asked the complainant to untie the buffaloes from his house and to tie them in the fields due to paddy season whereupon the complainant followed the instructions of his uncle Gurcharan Singh and while he was taking 4 buffaloes and 2 calves from the house to the fields, situated at Nagakhedi road and when he reached half kilometer ahead to village, then around 6.15 am while he was taking the buffaloes on the left side then a bus came from the side of Nagakhedi bearing registration No. PB13-AB-3149 (yellow colour) in high speed and the driver smashed his bus into the buffaloes by driving the same at high speed and with negligency. Due to said negligent act, it is stated that a calved buffalo died and second young buffalo aged about 3 years got injured whereupon the driver of bus was apprehended at spot who disclosed his name Sohan Singh, however, the said driver is stated to have fled away from the people of village gathered there. Accordingly, the aforesaid FIR was registered."

As we see, the Bench discloses in para 3 that, "It appears that the petitioner, namely, Sohan Singh (Driver of Bus) has entered into compromise with the complainant, namely, Harbhol Singh, vide compromise deed dated 16.12.2022 (Annexure P-2)."

As it turned out, the Bench then lays bare in para 4 that, "In the aforementioned circumstances, this quashing petition has been filed before this Court."

Needless to say, the Bench states in para 5 that, "I have heard learned counsel for parties and have also perused the paperbook."

As things stands, the Bench then puts forth in para 6 that, "In the instant case, the allegation against petitioner is that he was driving the bus in a rash and negligent manner at a high speed and smashed the bus into the buffaloes/calves going on the side of the road, which resulted into death of one buffalo and injury to another. Petitioner seeks quashing on the ground that he has entered into a compromise with the owner of the buffaloes."

Do note, the Bench notes in para 7 that, "A perusal of the compromise deed would indicate that charge has been framed against the petitioner under Sections 279, 429 IPC and some of the prosecution witnesses already stand examined."

Most significantly, the Bench mandates in para 8 that, "In my view, animals may be mute but we as a society have to speak on their behalf and no pain or agony should be caused to the animals. Cruelty to animals also cause psychological pain to them. Animals breath like humans and have emotions; they require food, water, shelter, normal behavior, medical care, self-determination. The animals have a right to life and bodily integrity, honor and dignity. Animals cannot be treated merely as property."

Most remarkably, while citing the most relevant case law, the Bench hastens to add in para 9 propounding that, "In the case of Karnail Singh v. State of Haryana, 2019(3) R.C.R. (Criminal) 396, the Hon'ble Punjab and Haryana High Court, while considering a case under Punjab Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act, observed as under:

"93. Their Lordships of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in "A. Nagaraja's" case have held that Article 21 of the Constitution, while safeguarding the rights of humans, protects life and the word "life" has been given an expanded definition and any disturbance from the basic environment which includes all forms of life, including animals life, which are necessary for human life, fall within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution. "Life" means something more than mere survival or existence or instrumental value for human beings, but to lead a life with some intrinsic worth, honour or dignity. All the animals have honour and dignity. Every species has an inherent right to live and is required to be protected by law. The rights and privacy of animals are to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks. Their Lordships have evolved the term "species' best interest." 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. 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…"."

Quite significantly and as a corollary, the Bench expounds in para 10 that, "Keeping in view the totality and circumstances, this Court is of the considered opinion that it will not be open for this Court to exercise its power under Section 482 Cr.P.C. for quashing of FIR only on the basis of compromise. Therefore, this Court does not find any merit in this petition and same is rejected. However, it is made clear that no adjudication is being made on the merits of the controversy and the observations made by this Court are only for the limited purposes of considering the prayer for quashing on the basis of compromise executed between the petitioner-Sohan Singh (driver of bus) and complainant in the aforesaid case FIR."

It is worth noting that for sake of clarity, the Bench clarifies in para 11 that, "None of the observations made above shall be construed as any observation or expression on the merits of the case and the trial Court shall proceed with the trial without being influenced by the abovesaid observations."

Finally, the Bench then concludes by directing in para 12 that, "Pending application (s), if any, shall also stand closed."

All told, we thus see that the Single Judge Bench compromising of Hon'ble Mr Justice Harsh Bunger of Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh has made it indubitably clear that animals also have the right to life and bodily integrity, honour and dignity which has to be protected from being destroyed. We thus see quite distinctly that the Chandigarh High Court very rightly refuses to quash the FIR against the bus driver who had smashed the bus into buffaloes/calves. No denying it!

 
"Loved reading this piece by Adv. Sanjeev Sirohi?
Join LAWyersClubIndia's network for daily News Updates, Judgment Summaries, Articles, Forum Threads, Online Law Courses, and MUCH MORE!!"



Published in Others
Views : 438




Comments