Activism And Wildlife: A Shift In Approach

Activism And Wildlife: A Shift In Approach

Introduction: Activism and Wildlife

There are two methodologies in natural morals to wild creatures. Both of these emphasize the issues looked at by jeopardized species anyway they have various explanations behind doing as such.[1] A human-centric way to deal with wild creatures is worried about imperiled species out of human personal responsibility. Conversely, an ecocentric approach puts a need upon wild creatures because of their place in a characteristically important environment.

Indian constitution protects the right of humans as well as animals also. And expanded the meaning of ‘life’ under art 21 and included animals under its ambit. Indian judiciary helped in shifting the view from anthropocentric to ecocentric approach.

This article also aims at studying different aspects of these approaches and how these approaches are implemented by the judiciary for the protection of animals in India.

Anthropocentric Approach

Anthropocentrism is a human-centered approach towards environmental conservation and protection.[2] Resultantly, any species that are of potential use to humans can be a reserve to be exploited which leads to the point of extinction of biological reserves.[3] The anthropocentric nature of the right has negative consequences on environmental conservation and protection as the environment in such a regime of environmental rights is conserved for itself, but only to the extent necessary to serve human needs or utility.[4] Anthropocentrism has been criticized by many environmental scholars and commentators for focusing excessively on human well-being while neglecting intrinsic environmental conservation.[5]

Anthropocentrism was deeply entrenched in environmental jurisprudence. It can be seen in several international documents. The United Nations Stockholm Conference in 1972 highlights its anthropocentrism by using humans as a modifier of the environment in its official title: the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment.[6]

The conference’s concluding declaration made it clear that the conference was foremost about ensuring economic development.[7] The Earth’s biodiversity and ecological integrity are being lost at an ever-increasing rate due to human impacts and the traditional, anthropocentric view had failed to control the situation.[8] So, in order to preserve the environment, a more nature-centered approach was needed. This led to the incorporation of Ecocentric principles.

Ecocentric Approach in Indian Context

There is no denying the fact that the judiciary earlier was inclined towards anthropocentrism. But gradually, it has shifted more towards ecocentrism. An ecocentric approach towards environmental rights aims principally to protect all forms of life, including all aspects of the environment focusing on their intrinsic value, not just those that benefit humans.[9]

This principle was elaborately discussed in T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India, where the court held that ‘Ecocentrism is nature-centered where humans are part of nature and non-human has intrinsic value. In other words, human interests do not take automatic precedence and humans have obligations to non-humans independently of human interest. Ecocentrism is, therefore, life-centered, nature-centered where nature include both human and non-humans.’[10]

While recognizing the need for ecocentric principles to conserve the environment, the court discussed the existing principles which were of anthropocentric view. For example, Public Trust Doctrine developed in M.C. Mehta v. Kamalnath[11] is based largely on anthropocentric principles and also the Precautionary and Polluter-Pay principle affirmed by this Court in Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India and others[12] are also rooted in anthropocentric principle since they too depend on harm to humans as a pre-requisite for invocation of those principles.

The judgment focused upon the legal interest of animals. The court while explaining the ecocentric approach, elaborated on the necessity of application of the same.[13] Also, in the case of T.N Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India[14], the court elaborated on the importance of an ecocentric approach.  Further, the court stated that there is a need for new legislation in India for the preservation and protection of endangered species.[15] In S. Kannan v. Commissioner of Police,[16] the court held that protection shall be granted to all kinds of birds including poultry against cruelty in any manner, the birds and animals are entitled to co-exist along with human beings.

These judgments introduce the radically transformative idea of eco-centrism into Indian law.[17] In these judgments, an ecocentric approach based on the intrinsic value of non-human life is presented as an alternative to hegemonic anthropocentrism, which recognizes non-human life only instrumentally in terms of value for humans.[18] These cases are considered milestones because these cases denote a major change in the Indian environmental jurisprudence. Now, the Indian judiciary gave importance to the intrinsic value of all living organisms like humans as vital components of nature.

Should animals too have the right to life under Article 21?

The judiciary has expanded the scope of the Constitution not only for humans only but also for non-human beings. In the case of Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, the court has discussed Article 21 in the context of animals and held that ‘Article 21, includes all forms of life, including animal life, which are necessary for human life, So far as animals are concerned, in our view, “life” means something more than mere survival or existence or instrumental value for human-beings, but to lead a life with some worth, honor and dignity.’[19]

In several judgments, the courts have recognized the importance of the life of animals and provided them protection under Article 21 then In the case of People for Animals v. Mohazzim, the court held that birds have fundamental rights including the right to live with dignity and they cannot be subjected to cruelty by anyone. Therefore, all the birds have fundamental rights to fly in the sky and all human beings have no right to keep them in small cages for the purposes of their business or otherwise.[20]

Again, in one of the cases, the Gujarat High Court held that to keep birds in cages would to illegal confinement of the birds which is in violation of the right of the birds to live in free air and sky.[21]

These interpretations are in furtherance to the objective of the Parliament laid under Article 48A[22] and Article 51A (g)[23] of the Constitution. It is clear that though these provisions are not enforceable, as they are in Part 4 of the Constitution, they are given effect when read with Fundamental rights.

In-State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jamat and Ors.[24]one of the case Court held that by enacting Article 51A (g) and giving it the status of a fundamental duty, one of the objects sought to be achieved by Parliament is to ensure that the spirit and message of Articles 48 and 48A are honored as a fundamental duty of every citizen. Now, both citizens and the State shall have the duty to safeguard the environment.

So, it can be said that animal laws have a passage from economic purposes to ecological objects to ethical reasons. At the same time, animals have established their rights also and the scope of the law has been changed from conservation to protection and ultimately to welfare.[25]

Conclusion

As in the anthropocentric approach, all things are human-centric, which is not acceptable. It should not be done that if human beings want then, they can destroy all other species. It is the responsibility of human beings to protect and preserve nature, especially in times of increasing environmental depletion.[26] Therefore, instead of treating ourselves as superior and selfishly exploiting natural resources, we should put in our efforts to serve the environment.[27] Also, the Indian judiciary helped to shift from anthropocentric to ecocentrism.

This is a co-authored article written by Miss. Komal Joshi and Divya Vyas, 5th year, B.B.A. LL.B (Hons.) students of United world School of Law, Karnavati University, Gandhinagar.

 

 

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Bibliography

  • http://thinkkangaroos.uts.edu.au/issues/environmental-ethics-v-animal-rights-ethics.html
  • Du Plessis A, ‘Fulfilment of South Africa’s constitutional environmental right in the local government sphere’ Published LLD Thesis, North-West University, Potchefstroom, 2008, 29
  • N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union Of India, (2012) 3 SCC 277
  • Shastri, Satish C. “ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS ANTHROPOCENTRIC TO ECO-CENTRIC APPROACH: A PARADIGM SHIFT.” Journal of the Indian Law Institute55, no. 4 (2013): 522-30. Accessed August 25th, 2021, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4395365
  • Scholtz W, ‘The anthropocentric approach to sustainable development in the National Environmental Management Act and the Constitution of South Africa’ 1 Journal of South African Law, 2005, 70
  • Bron Taylor, Conservation Biology, Volume 34, No. 5, 1089–1096
  • Haydn Washington, Why ecocentrism is the key pathway to sustainability? available at https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/statement-ecocentrism/, last visited on 25th August 2021
  • N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v.Union of India, (2012) 3 SCC 277
  • C. Mehta v. Kamalnath 1997 (1) SCC 388
  • Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India and others 1996 (5) SCC 647
  • N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v.Union of India, (2012) 4 SCC 362
  • Centre for Environment Law, WWF-IUnion of India, (2013) 8 SCC 234
  • Kannan v. Commissioner of Police, WP (MD) No. 8040 of 2014
  • https://www.india-seminar.com/2019/721/721_abhayraj_naik.htm (last visited on 25th August 2021)
  • Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547
  • People for Animals v. Mohazzim, 2015(3 )RCR (Criminal) 94
  • Muhammadbhai Jalalbhai Serasiya v. State of Gujarat 2015 JX (Guj)378
  • The state of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jamat and Ors. (2005) 8 SCC 534
  • Role of the Supreme Court in Developing the Concept of Animal Rights in India by Prakash Sharma, Partha Pratim Mitra:: SSRN, accessed on 25th August 2021 ACTIVISM AND WILDLIFE
  • The Constitution of India,1950, Article 48A
  • The Constitution of India 1950, Article 51 A(g)

 

[1] http://thinkkangaroos.uts.edu.au/issues/environmental-ethics-v-animal-rights-ethics.html

[2] Du Plessis A, ‘Fulfilment of South Africa’s constitutional environmental right in the local government sphere’ Published LLD Thesis, North-West University, Potchefstroom, 2008, 29

[3] T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad vs Union Of India, (2012) 3 SCC 277

[4] Shastri, Satish C. “ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS ANTHROPOCENTRIC TO ECO-CENTRIC APPROACH: A PARADIGM SHIFT.” Journal of the Indian Law Institute 55, no. 4 (2013): 522-30. Accessed August 25th, 2021, http://www.jstor.org/stable/4395365

[5] Scholtz W, ‘The anthropocentric approach to sustainable development in the National Environmental Management Act and the Constitution of South Africa’ 1 Journal of South African Law, 2005, 70

[6] Bron Taylor, Conservation Biology, Volume 34, No. 5, 1089–1096

[7] Ibid.

[8]Haydn Washington, Why ecocentrism is the key pathway to sustainability? available at https://mahb.stanford.edu/blog/statement-ecocentrism/, last visited on 25th August 2021

[9] Supra 1

[10] T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India, (2012) 3 SCC 277

[11] M.C. Mehta v. Kamalnath 1997 (1) SCC 388

[12] Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India and others 1996 (5) SCC 647

[13] Supra 9

[14]  T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India, (2012) 4 SCC 362

[15] Centre for Environment Law, WWF-I v. Union of India, (2013) 8 SCC 234

[16] S. Kannan v. Commissioner of Police, WP (MD) No. 8040 of 2014

[17] https://www.india-seminar.com/2019/721/721_abhayraj_naik.htm (last visited on 25th August  2021)

[18] Ibid

[19] Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547

[20] People for Animals v. Mohazzim, 2015(3 )RCR (Criminal) 94

Muhammadbhai Jalalbhai Serasiya v. State of Gujarat,

[21] Muhammadbhai Jalalbhai Serasiya v. State of Gujarat 2015 JX (Guj)378

[22] The Constitution of India, Article 48A

[23] The Constitution of India, Article 51A (g)

[24] The state of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jamat and Ors. (2005) 8 SCC 534

[25] Role of the Supreme Court in Developing the Concept of Animal Rights in India by Prakash Sharma, Partha Pratim Mitra:: SSRN, accessed on 25th August 2021

[26] https://blog.ipleaders.in/anthropocentric-v-ecocentric-approach-to-the-environment/(last visited on 25th August 2021)

[27] Ibid

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