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Supreme Court asks Centre, Gujarat whether birds have a right to fly

New Delhi: Do birds enjoy a fundamental right to fly and not be kept in cages? The Supreme Court on Friday sought a response from the Centre and the Gujarat government on pet lovers’ plea against a high court order for releasing 494 birds. The high court (HC) had said that the birds have a right to fly in the open sky.


A bench headed by Chief Justice of India H L Dattu sought response from the both the governments on a PIL by the Pet Lovers’ Association.

Appearing for the association, senior advocate Salman Khurshid submitted that there are already laws in place to protect birds which can be domesticated.

He said that the HC order that they have the fundamental right to fly is a “flawed one” and required to be struck down. The HC, in 2011, had held that the birds cannot be caged as they have the right to fly.

The HC ordered the release of 494 birds and said that their confinement was a violation of their right to live freely.

The HC ordered the release of not only birds like parrots, doves, pigeons and love birds, but also animals like rabbits and dogs.

Earlier, the SC court had refused to entertain an appeal against the HC order on grounds of delay and had suggested to Khurshid to file a PIL instead.

The HC had passed the order while dealing with a bunch of petitions by bird sellers of Surat, demanding custody of their caged birds, which were confiscated by the police under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and under Section 12 of the Wildlife Protection Act.

The HC had ordered the release of these birds and animals seized from Abdul Kadar Sheikh and others, and placed them with an NGO, running shelter for birds and animals.

Taking the bird sellers to task, the court said that, prima facie, an offence of atrocity on birds and animals was made out against the bird sellers.

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

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