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May 16, 2011 / V A Nichols

Indian High Court: A day has come to think about the rights of the birds and animals

Confinement of birds in cages violates their right to live: HC

Ahmedabad, May 15 (PTI)
Gujarat High court has ordered the release of 494 birds held captive in cages, saying that it was the fundamental right of birds to fly in the open sky and their confinement was violation of their right to live freely.
The order was passed last week by Justice M R Shah while dealing with a bunch of petitions where the issue under question was — whether birds have a right to live freely and whether they can be kept in cages or whether by keeping them in cages violates their fundamental rights.

A bunch of petitions was filed by bird sellers of Surat demanding custody of the caged birds which were confiscated by police under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and under section 12 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 last year.

“To keep birds in cages would tantamount to illegal confinement of the birds which is in violation of right of the birds to live in free air/sky,” the court observed.

“It is the fundamental right of the bird to live freely in the open sky,” it added, while ordering the release of 494 birds like parrots, doves, pigeons, love-birds and animals like rabbits and dogs, that were seized from bird seller Abdul Kadar Sheikh and others, and were placed with an NGO running shelter for birds and animals.

“The only order which can be passed in such circumstances would be to set the birds free in the sky and if such an order is passed it would be respecting the rights of the birds,” the court said in the order.

The court also was of the opinion that prima facie offence of atrocity on birds and animal was made out against the bird sellers.

“In the present case, the manner in which birds are kept in the small cages, that too, when their wings are cut; their tails are cut; on their wings cello-tape is put and there are rings on their feet, nothing can be more heinous than such acts and there cannot be more glaring example of atrocity and inhumanity,” it said in the order.

It further said that the Article 51-A(g) of the Constitution of India, casts a fundamental duty on every citizen to have compassion for living creature and infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals was anti-thesis to this duty.

“Nobody has a right to inflict pain or suffering to others including animals and birds,” the court said.

“When everybody is talking about fundamental rights of the citizen, such as, right to live freely, right to food, right to move freely etc. a day has come to think about the rights of the birds and animals,” it added.

According to case details, the bird sellers from Surat who were booked under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Wildlife Protection Act had approached a local court demanding interim custody of birds but a magisterial court ordered to free the birds.

Following this, they had approached the High Court challenging the lower court’s order.

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