Elephants weigh in with humans in Rajasthan High Court

By Kirtiman Awasthi
Published: Wednesday 31 January 2007

From now on, animals will be treated at par with human beings, at least when it comes to insurance claims in Rajasthan. In a recent judgement, Rajasthan High Court has adjudged the elephant as a "living creature equivalent to a human being" and awarded compensation of Rs 599,440 for the death of an elephant in an accident in 1988.

The elephant, Babli, died after being hit by a tourist jeep in Jaipur. Its owner claimed compensation from the New India Insurance Company. But, the insurance company agreed to pay not more than Rs 2,000 and contended that under section 147 of the Central Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, animals could not be treated as living beings but only as property; the company has limited liability towards the third party.The case was first heard by the Motor Accident Tribunal of Jaipur, which directed the insurance company to compensate Rs 290,000 to the owner Rs 100,000 towards the cost of the elephant, Rs 180,000 towards the loss of income of the owner and Rs 10,000 to meet the elephant's funeral expenses. It had specified an annual interest rate of 12 per cent. The court has upheld the verdict, but reduced the interest rate to 7.5 per cent.

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