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Parens patriae - Meaning | Use | Origin | Importance | For Animals



Parens patriae is Latin for "parent of the nation". In law, it refers to the public policy power of the state to intervene against an abusive or negligent parent, legal guardian, or informal caretaker, and to act as the parent of any child, individual or animal who is in need of protection.


Parens Patriae is a doctrine that permits the state, power and authority to protect individuals who are deemed legally unable to act on their own behalf. When the government exercises Parens Patriae they assume the role of guardian acting in behalf of another, such as child or mentally disabled individual.


The term parens patriae originated in the 12th century with the King of England and literally means “the father of the country.” Applied to juvenile matters, parens patriae means the king is responsible for and in charge of everything involving youth.


On the other hand, in the juvenile justice legal system, parens patriae allows the State to step in and serve as guardian for children, the mentally-ill, the incompetent, the elderly or disabled persons who are unable to care for themselves.


Supreme Court of India invoked the doctrine of parens patriae in Animal Welfare Board Of India vs A. Nagaraja & Ors, the court observed, "PCA Act is a welfare legislation which has to be construed bearing in mind the purpose and object of the Act and the Directive Principles of State Policy. It is trite law that, in the matters of welfare legislation, the provisions of law should be liberally construed in favour of the weak and infirm. Court also should be vigilant to see that benefits conferred by such remedial and welfare legislation are not defeated by subtle devices. Court has also a duty under the doctrine of parens patriae to take care of the rights of animals, since they are unable to take care of themselves as against human beings."


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