- The PETA is responsible for majority of the rules and regulations for the protection of animals in India.
- The country has made numerous provisions to ensure that the speechless animals are not subjected to torture and cruelty.
- The ban imposed by the BJP led government has had a huge impact in the rise of cattle count in the country.
- The article discusses the various provisions and the impact of the laws on the animals and the citizens.
India which is the world’s seventh biggest country and is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions has four of the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots. It is home to a diverse range of species, from Bengal Tigers to Great Indian Rhinoceros, and animal preservation and care has become increasingly important in recent years. The Indian Constitution makes animal protection a fundamental duty, and there are several animal welfare laws in place in India, including the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 at the federal level, as well as cattle protection and cow slaughter prohibition laws at the state level.
The Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860 is the country's official criminal code, covering all aspects of criminal law. All acts of cruelty, such as murdering, poisoning, maiming, or rendering animals useless, are made punishable under Sections 428 and 429 of the IPC. The laws were enacted to protect animals from unnecessary pain and suffering, and similar laws are still being enacted in response to changing conditions and thinking of the people.
Animal Protection under the Constitution
The Indian Constitution states that it is the “duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for all living creatures.” The Directive Principle of State Policy under Article 48A adds to this constitutional duty of animal protection.
The State will work to maintain and improve the environment, as well as the country's forests and wildlife. The 42nd Amendment, which was ratified in 1976, introduced both of the following constitutional requirements. While they are not immediately enforceable in Indian courts, they establish the framework for animal protection legislation, policies, and state directives at the federal and state levels. Furthermore, they may be enforced in courts by using a broad judicial interpretation to bring them within the scope of Article 21's judicially enforceable Fundamental Right to life and liberty.
Protection of Animal Laws in India
In addition, under Section 16 (c) of the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, it is illegal to hurt, kill, or destroy wild birds or reptiles, as well as to damage or disturb their eggs or nests. The person found guilty faces a sentence of 3 to 7 years in prison and a fine of Rs 25,000.
Animals must be healthy and in good condition while being transported, according to Section 98 of the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978. Diseased, tired, or unsuited for transport animals should not be moved. Animals that are pregnant or very young should also be carried separately.
Performing Animals are defined as any animal employed for the purpose of any entertainment to which the public is admitted through the sale of tickets under Section 2(b) of the Performing Animals Rules, 1973.This covers animals used in films and for horse competitions, according to Section 2(h) of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001.
In the Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965, if a police officer above the rank of constable believes that the animal is overloading, he may ask the owner or any other person in charge of the animal to take the animal, the vehicle, or both to the weighbridge to determine the weight of the load that the animal has been or is drawing or carrying, according to Section 11 of the Act.If the owner of the aforementioned animal refuses to comply with the police officer's demand, the officer has the authority to take the animal, the vehicle, or both to the weighbridge and have them weighed.
Section 39 of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 makes it illegal to injure any wild animal that is considered government property. Amphibians, birds, reptiles, and mammals, as well as their young, are included in the Act's definition of "animal." In the case of birds and reptiles, this category includes their eggs as well. The penalty for a person who commits an offence under this Act is set forth in Section 51 of the Act. On conviction, the accused will face a sentence of three years in prison or a fine of twenty-five thousand rupees, or a combination of the two. A second or subsequent offence will result in a sentence of seven years in jail and a fine of ten thousand rupees.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 is India’s core animal cruelty statute. The Act's goal is to avoid the imposition of undue pain or suffering on animals, as well as to reform legislation relating to animal cruelty prevention. Any living creature, other than a human being, is defined as an ‘animal’ under the Act.
The Government of India formed the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) with some of the following tasks in accordance with Chapter II of the Act:
- Advising the Federal Government on modifications and guidelines to minimise unnecessary pain in animals whether they are transported, used in experiments, or kept in captivity.
- Financial aid, rescue homes, and animal sanctuaries for elderly animals are all encouraged.
- Advising the Government on animal hospital medical treatment and regulations.
- Educating and raising awareness about the humane treatment of animals.
- Providing broad animal welfare advice to the Federal Government.
Dehorning/castration of cattle in the prescribed method, destruction of stray dogs in lethal chambers in the prescribed manner, and elimination of any animal under the power of law, however, are not considered cruelty under the Act.
Animal experimentation is covered in Part IV of the Act. Experimentation on animals for the aim of advancing physiological knowledge or information to battle disease, whether in humans, animals, or plants, is not prohibited by the Act. It calls on the Central Government to establish a Committee for the Control and Supervision of Animal Experiments, with the authority to forbid experimentation, if necessary.
The topic of performing animals is covered in Chapter V. Section 22 makes it illegal to exhibit or teach an animal without first registering it with the AWBI. Animals such as monkeys, bears, lions, tigers, panthers, and bulls are prohibited from being used as performance animals under this section.
Section 28 of the Act provides more freedom, stating that “nothing in the Act shall make it an offence to kill any animal in a manner mandated by the religion of any group.” This Section was deemed necessary due of the multiplicity of religions and traditions in India.
Animal cruelty is penalised by a punishment of Rs 10 that can be increased to Rs 50 on the first conviction. A subsequent conviction within three years of a previous infraction carries a fine of Rs 25 that can be increased to Rs 100, or three months in prison, or both. Phooka or any other surgery to increase breastfeeding that is harmful to the animal's health is punishable by a fine of Rs 1000 or a sentence of up to 2 years in prison, or both. The Government also has the authority to forfeit, seize, or kill the animal. Any violation of the Committee's rule on animal testing is penalised by a fine of up to Rs 200.
Impact of Ban
The Ministry of Environment of the Government of India in 2017 declared purchasing and slaughtering of cattle to be illegal. The Supreme Court came to the rescue of the beef and leather industries and suspended the ban. This decision of the Government had a lot of impact on the people and the effect can be seen in the counts.
The official Livestock Census data shows the impact of anti-slaughter legislation – and, more importantly, their vigorous enforcement. Cattle populations in UP, MP, Gujarat, and Maharashtra (which was a BJP-ruled state until a year ago) decreased between 2012 and 2019. These same states, on the other hand, saw an increase in buffalo numbers. Today, buffaloes outnumber cattle in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Haryana, as well as Punjab and Andhra Pradesh.
In fact, West Bengal surpassed Uttar Pradesh as India's top livestock state in the 2019 Census. The irony is that the state allows all animals to be slaughtered. It only has a “control” law on animal killing. It allows for the slaughter of any animal, including cattle and buffalo. All that is needed is a veterinary officer's certificate certifying that the animal is “fit for slaughter.”
If the claimed goal of anti-slaughter legislation is to "preserve livestock," that message is plainly not getting through to farmers. They appear to prefer raising creatures that can be simply discarded once their useful life has passed.
The Indian Constitution was amended in 1976 to include the 42nd Amendment, which laid the framework for animal protection in India. Animal protection legislation has been enacted both at the federal and state levels as a result of the constitutional provisions establishing the duty of animal protection, the most famous of which is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960. In addition, Indian courts have created a significant legal doctrine in animal law over time.
However, India still has a long way to go in terms of actually establishing a firm foundation for the protection and safety of the animals in legislations. The Indian Constitution’s animal protection clauses remain ideas rather than concrete law that may be enforced in courts. The penalties for cruelty to animals under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 are just insufficient to prevent crimes against animals. The law is not strictly enforced, and it provides many provisions that allow for liability to be avoided and this allows the people to misuse it in their favor. In order to provide India with a stronger animal protection law, extensive modifications are required.