Fundamental Right of birdsIn a landmark judgment, the Delhi High Court has ruled that all birds have a fundamental right to “live with dignity” and cannot be caged for business or other purposes. It has stated clearly that keeping birds in cages for trade purposes was a “violation of their rights”.

Expressing anguish over the treatment meted out to caged birds, Justice Manmohan Singh said that instead of being allowed to fly free they are exported to other countries under terrible conditions wherein they are denied food, water and medical aid. The High Court also put a stay on the trial court order to release the caged birds back to Md Mohazzim, the same person from whom the birds were seized, based on a plea by People for Animals – an NGO. The High Court has issued notices seeking response from the Delhi Police and Md Mohazzim by 28 May.

What’s wrong with keeping birds in cages?

As in any society, there will always be another opinion or viewpoint and we can be sure that there will be different perspectives to this judgment. So let’s try and see what some may believe to the contrary.

Birds have been kept in captivity for centuries. Initially, it was a hobby, but over time, with growing popularity and increasing demand for exotic and rare birds, the business of trading in birds grew.

Certain birds in certain countries command sizeable value. While most own exotic birds for status and hobby, some acquire them for culinary demands. Either ways, the international trade is thriving, mostly illegally, across borders.

But what about the birds we tend to keep at home? Isn’t that supposed to be for our children’s interest and perhaps knowledge? Some may argue, if it is ok to keep pets such as dogs, cats, rabbits, fish etc in captivity and at home, why not birds? Valid point. And this judgment does raise further questions with regard to other pets. Several animal rights activists may now file appeals based on this judgment, arguing similar fundamental rights for other animals.

The argument can be further extended to animals and birds kept in captivity for human consumption. Arguments against their ‘conditions’ and in support of their ‘fundamental rights’ could also be debated. Therefore, it will be interesting to watch what impact this judgment has on future petitions on similar grounds.

Fly Robin Fly

Other pets aside, it is sheer cruelty to keep birds caged. A bird was born to fly and soar freely and without borders, as created by man. So why did man allow them to be caged, in the first place?

To understand the pain and suffering that a bird undergoes, one only has to watch the World War II film: Bridge on the River Kwai and see how human prisoners were kept in cages. While this is by no means the only example, we can’t begin to imagine the pain of captivity every species suffers at the hands of humans. If only we humans could understand that these birds are intelligent, they can feel, communicate and socialize with one another and therefore, keeping them caged is the most terrible thing that we could do to them.

A bird can’t speak, express or protest. And that’s why we have some caring people working for various animal rights groups that try and raise a voice on behalf of these helpless birds. Fortunately, Justice Manmohan Singh felt the pain and anguish and now there is hope for the unfortunate birds in captivity to fly again, for they were born to fly, anyways.

A hope… finally!

The judgment would have pleased Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the fabled seagull created by Richard Bach, growing up learning about life and flight. For that’s how every bird should be. They belong to the skies and we, as just one of the thousands of species on this planet, have absolutely no right to keep in captivity another species and deny them what is their fundamental right. It’s this ability to feel, understand and accommodate that separates us from all the other species.

Let’s all celebrate the Delhi High Court’s judgment by freeing all birds in captivity.

Read more:

Jatinga: Where birds commit suicide
Birdwatching at Man Sagar Lake in Jaipur
Famous Bird Sanctuaries of India