- There have been increasing animal cruelty cases in India, and the recent examples are the killing of monkeys in Karnataka.
- The brutal killing of a dog named Bruno in Kerala shook the courts also.
- Organizations like PETA, SGACC, VSPCA India, and others have been continuously working to better animals.
- The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is one of the most important legislation to prohibit cruelty against animals.
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 has actively worked toward the protection of wild animals and helped in saving several endangered species.
- HCs and SC continuously through the years have passed landmark judgments for animal welfare and protection.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. - Mahatma Gandhi
India is a country with ancient and rich cultural heritage, and since time immemorial, inhabitants of it had given importance to religious cultures. The religious scriptures found in India have propagated worshipping several Gods, and with that, they also worshipped animals that were related to that particular God. Ancient people reared and bred animals for husbandry, and they were also domesticated for religious purposes as many Hindus relate different animals with different gods.
For instance, the story of ten avatars of Hindu God Vishnu, animals like tortoise and boar, has been seen as God's forms. Monkeys are prayed as a form of Hindu God Hanuman, and also it has been seen that several Birds and other animals accompany the Gods and Goddesses in Hindu scriptures.
This practice continues in the country, and many religious groups propagate the safety and protection of several animals in the name of religion. The most recent and biggest example of this practice can be seen in the various laws made by governments for the protection and welfare of cows.
Although there had been practices for the protection and welfare of animals, it is still not correct to say that animals are taken care of across the country. One or the other day which thing come across news that tells us about torture, beating, and exploitation of animals.
CASES OF ANIMAL CRUELTY IN INDIA
One of the most recent animal cruelty cases was noted in Hassan district of Karnataka on 28 July 2020, where a group of monkeys was poisoned and beaten up after being trapped in gunny bags and later thrown on the roadside. This led to the death of around 38 monkeys, and troubled by the incident, Karnataka High Court took Suo Motu cognizance of the incident to take action against the involved persons.
This incident was not a lone case of animal cruelty. Last year in Karala, a pregnant elephant died after eating fruits filled with firecrackers, and the death caught the attention of many celebrities and activities. However, without any conclusion, it was given a communal turn.
In January 2019, two medical college students in Kolata were arrested for killing 16 puppies on the college campus in a planned manner and were booked under IPC.
In May 2018, carcasses of around 100 stray dogs were found in a forest area in Hyderabad and it was claimed that several people were seen picking dogs from the streets that were later killed in the forest.
Cities like Kolkata, Vadodara, Haryana have seen offenses of unnatural sex against the animals in the past few years, and these are very few instances that have caught people's eyes. There are uncountable cases where lab testing, using animals in functions and parties, beating them or throwing them off balconies and terraces, poisoning go unnoticed almost every day.
ORGANISATIONS WORKING FOR ANIMAL WELFARE IN INDIA
On the one hand, where these poor animals are subjected to cruelty, several organizations around the country work day in and out to protect and find a better place for these poor animals.
People For Animals is India's largest animal welfare association with a nationwide network of 26 hospitals that work to rehabilitate and rescue sick and needy animals. It is open to anyone interested in volunteer and taking care of the animals.
Launched in January 2000, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is one of the largest organizations in the world that has been advocating for animal rights for years and has 6.5 million members across the globe. It believes in the principle that animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way and work to educate people and lawmakers about the right of the animals. They also should be treated with respect.
Wildlife SOS India, established in 1995, mainly works towards the protection of wildlife and their natural habitat.
Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals (VSPCA India), founded in 1996, has been working towards stopping the illegal trade of internationally protected sea turtles, rescuing old and abandoned animals, and providing permanent homes to neglected or abused animals.
Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre (SGACC) was found in 1980 and is Indias largest all animal shelter and is home to around 3000 animals at any given time. It also aims to rescue, rehabilitate, and treat needy animals and has a 27x7 ambulance service.
These are just a few animal welfare organizations that have been in existence for a very long time, and the increasing awareness among people and their humanity towards needy animals has brought up several new organizations in almost every city in India that are easily accessible and work full time to provide a better life to abused and stray animals.
ANIMAL PROTECTION LAWS IN INDIA
Constitution Of India
Directive Principles of State Policy envisaged under part IV of the Constitution have specifically laid down guidelines to protect and preserve animals.
Article 48 of the Constitution deals with the organization of agriculture and husbandry. It gives the power to the state to organize agriculture and husbandry on scientific grounds and prevent cows and calves, and other animals.
Article 48A states that there should be protection and improvement of the environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife, and the state should make efforts for the same.
The fundamental duty mentioned under article 51(g) makes it the responsibility of every citizen to "protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures."
Under Article 246 read with Seventh Schedule of, the Constitution gives the parliament and the legislature the power to make laws for the prevention of cruelty to animals and the protection of wild animals and birds.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
This Act was passed in 1960 to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals. Section 4 of the Act lays down the provisions for forming an Animal Welfare board that will work to provide for animal welfare and extend protection to animals against any unnecessary pain and suffering.
Section 11 lays down the acts covered under the ambit of cruelty to animals,except for some acts. It also states that if any person is found guilty of causing cruelty to animals shall be liable to pay a fine in case its first offense. In case of a subsequent offense, the punishment will be upgraded to imprisonment for three years.
In 2017, the parliament passed Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules under this Act. They allowed a magistrate to forfeit the cattle of an owner under trial in this Act, and the cattle could be sent to infirmaries, animal shelters, etc. The authorities could further give such animals for "adoption." The Supreme Court disagreed with these rules and asked the parliament to either amend or withdraw the rules as they were contrary to Section 29 of the Act.
Indian Penal Code
Section 428 and 429 of IPC say that any person who is found guilty of causing mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming, or rendering useless any animal shall be punished with imprisonment up to 2 years or five years or fine or both. It has also been made illegal for vehicles to purposefully injure dogs, cats, and cows on the streets.
Drug And Cosmetic Rules, 2014
It is common practice in India and across the globe to use animals as experimenting subjects to test the effects of drugs, medicines, and new cosmetics as many animals show reactions the same as human beings. Animal activists for years have been trying to stop this practice and promoting natural and animal cruelty-free products. In recent times many homegrown brands are choosing the alternative of going animal cruelty-free.
Drug And Cosmetic Rules passed in 2014 were steps taken by the Indian government to ban this practice. These rules prohibited the testing of animals for cosmetics all around the country, and any person found guilty of doing so was liable to pay a fine from Rs 500 to Rs 10,000. He could also be punished for a term of 3 could be extended to 10 years.
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
India for several years had been a land of rich flora and fauna with the home to Bengal tigers, Asiatic lions and elephants, and rare species of plants. These features of our country had been under constant threat by hunters, poachers, people in business who illegally killed these animals and used their skins, tusks, teeth, perfume for their profit and business. Intending to control these activities, the parliament passed the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 that intended to protect and preserve these plants and animals and establish a network of ecologically important protected areas.
The Act provided for the formation of wildlife sanctuaries, wildlife advisory boards, and national parks. For the first time, it helped create a list of endangered plants and animals and mainly lays down the provisions to prohibit wild hunting animals and endangered species.
Section 9 of the Act prohibits hunting endangered species, and whoever is found violating the provisions will be punishable with a fine of Rs 25000 and imprisonment up to 3 years.
This Act helped in the establishment National Tiger Conservation Authority. It gave support and success to one of the most important projects, Project Tiger, launched in 1973. Since then, it has tremendously helped increase the population of tigers in India and save them from extinction.
Animal Welfare of India v. A Nagaraja and Ors,
This was the famous case where the constitutional validity of the traditional sport Jalikattu was challenged before the Madras High Court. Jalikattu was a famous sport played in Tamil Nadu during Pongal, and it included fights between bulls. During the fights, several people used to get injured, and bulls were also subjected to harsh and poor treatment at the participants' hands.
The Supreme Court ruled in favour of Animal Welfare of India and imposed a ban on the practice of Jalikattu and stated that it violated sections 3, 11, and 22 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals v. Union of India
In this case, PETA filed a writ petition against the filmmakers of a film and stated that protection of animals was a duty of the citizens laid down under article 51(g) of the Constitution, and it also contended that the acts of the filmmaker violated the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and also that to use an animal in the film, the permission should be taken from Animal Welfare Board of India.
The Bombay High Court reeled in the favour of PETA. It held that for any movie aiming to use animals in its filming, it is a prerequisite that it should obtain a Non-objection certificate from the Animal Welfare Board of India.
Ivory Traders and Manufacturers Association v. Union of India
In this case, the petitioners had challenged a ban which was imposed on them for having possession of mammoth ivory and articles made from mammoth ivory, and they had also challenged some of the amendments made in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 that mainly prohibited them from storing and trading in ivory that was extracted from African elephants. They contended that the ban on them was violative of their fundamental right enshrined under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
The full bench of Delhi High Court held that bans imposed under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 were following the provisions of the Constitution and were not ultra vires and unconstitutional.
Naveen Raheja v. Union of India
It was a shocking case of Andhra Pradesh where a tiger was brutally skinned in a zoo and the Supreme court was in Utter shock when it first heard the case. The Apex Court stated that it was beyond necessary to call the chairperson of the Central Zoo Authority to court and ask him as to what steps have been taken to prevent such horrific acts against tigers in zoos and forests and noted that it was very important for the Central Zoo Authority to take actions against such acts.
From the information given above, it can be concluded that India has come a long way in recognizing the rights of animals and providing them with safety and protection. We have seen always seen that animal activists have from a long time propagated the ideas of animal welfare and to a large extent and from the past many years those ideas have been adopted by the governments and formed into several rules and laws that work for the betterment of the animals.
It is not just the parliament and NGOs that have worked for animals' interests, High Courts and Supreme Court through judicial activism have laid down various guidelines and passed many landmark judgments that have acted as foundations and stepping stones for creating more awareness towards animal welfare.
After all the struggle and steps made by different people, India still lacks a strict and disciplined structure to control the menace of animal brutality and torture. As mentioned above we have seen the rise in crime against animals. The issue of increasing torture and misbehavior with animals can only be controlled through stringent laws and social awareness among the people that make them, understand that like human beings, animals can feel pain and suffer too and we should all together work for their betterment.