High Court Justice Receives PETA Award for Ordering that Caged Birds be Freed

‘A Day Has Come to Think About the Rights of the Birds and Animals’, Says Jurist

For Immediate Release:
18 May 2011

Sachin Bangera + 9198201 22561; [email protected]
Benazir Suraiya +91 22 4072 7382; [email protected]

Mumbai – For finding that caging birds is illegal and ordering the freeing of 494 birds and other animals seized from bird sellers by police, Gujarat High Court Justice M R Shah will receive a Compassionate Action Award from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India. Justice Shah’s words echo those of revered English poet William Blake, who in the late 1700s famously wrote that a bird in a cage “[p]uts all heaven in a rage”.

According to news reports, the bird sellers petitioned the court to return the animals to them after police confiscated parrots, doves, love birds and munias as well as rabbits and dogs. But on 12 May, Justice Shah found that keeping the birds caged was in violation of both the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Wildlife Protection Act and ordered that the birds be set free. The birds had been kept in small cages, and their tail feathers had been cut and their wings taped to prevent them from flying. In issuing his ruling, Justice Shah was quoted in The Times of India as saying, “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 …”.

“In ordering that the birds be freed, Justice Shah has made a powerful statement that violations of laws aimed at protecting animals must be strongly enforced”, says PETA India’s Poorva Joshipura. “We are calling on police and courts across India to set a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who cages birds and thereby denies these animals their precious and most fundamental right to be able to fly.”

Caged birds suffer their entire lives. Both hand-raised and wild-caught birds often become neurotic, pulling out feathers and mutilating themselves, sometimes to the point of death. Many species naturally pluck some feathers to prepare for nest-building and egg-sitting, but when humans confine birds to cages, plucking becomes a destructive compulsion. Birds are intelligent, social animals who feel pain and fear. They are captured by poachers, packed into small boxes and transported on trains. An estimated 60 per cent of them die in transit, usually from broken wings and legs, thirst, hunger or stress. Baby birds are caught in traps and nets, which often results in injury or death.

For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.