Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - Brunch
Pet Custody: Should India do it too?
A recent law passed in Spain means pets are now considered legal family members. Two lawyers debate if this will work in India.
“Pets gain immense value in a familial set-up” “Don’t impose the same obsolete machinery on them”
There is no reason to legislate a statute to bring pets at par with children. To saddle our furry friends with the obsolete guardianship laws presently in place would be a grave disservice. Even in 2022, there still exist bizarre provisions of law that mandate that in the case of a minor boy or an unmarried girl, the father shall be the natural guardian and another provision which stipulates that the natural guardian of an adoptive child shall be an adoptive father, even if the spouses adopt together.
However, Indian laws recognise the concept of ownership of animals, thereby treating them as objects.
Since family courts were established to adjudicate matrimonial disputes relating to sharing or division of the joint property of the spouses, a family court would therefore decide any dispute regarding our four-legged possessions.
The principles guiding the family court should rest on the directions passed by the Delhi
High Court in June 2021 to regulate the feeding of stray dogs. The court observed that ‘Animals too have a right to be treated with compassion, respect and dignity...”
We are better off treating our pets at par with objects than to impose on them the same obsolete machinery that has failed thousands of children and parents in India already.
Abhey Narula is a lawyer based in New Delhi.