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“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.”: Arthur Schopenhauer[1]


The paper discusses the history and objective of the Animal laws in India. It highlights the societal urgencies existing then that required the incipience of such a law. It also discusses the approach adopted by the courts in providing effect to constitutional provisions dealing with the protection of animals and for the application of such laws. Further, based on the present application, the deficiencies in the liability imposed by the PCA are analysed. Deficiencies in the law are broadly categorised intosum of penalty, non-cognizable status of offences, statutory limitation.


Since immemorial times, Indian society has been known to be country where animals are treated as an integral part of the world and are worshipped too. As per the ancient Indian culture, animals are regarded as divine beings and animals like cow, tiger, lion, elephant, horse, bull, snake, monkey are worshipped. Presently, animals hold various roles, such as agricultural and transportation purposes in the rural areas, as pets, in sports, for entertainment purposes, scientific experiments in the educational sectors in science and research etc. They have a major contribution to our Indian diet. Since the inception of mankind, humans have been dependent on domestic creatures.

However, either they are treated as an object to be worshipped or are subjected to cruelty like harming stray dogs, shooting innocent birds and leaving completely harmless animals to starvation and death, or seen companies illegally experimenting their products on animals, animals being mistreated and harmed for entertainment in zoos and parks, men carrying an unimaginable number of cattle in a cart or truck, beating them and overloading them. Rise in such cruelty against animals has compelled us to recognize importance of laws required to protect and respect animals. Though there are various guidelines in the ancient religious scriptures of India for the protection of animals. India has some provisions in the Constitution and some acts, rules and regulations relating to protection of animals in India too but lack adequacy in them.


Since very early times, it has been seen that India has passed enormous Acts and Rules regarding protection of animals in India. Some of the major laws and rules have been listed below:


The Constitution of India recognizes the lives and welfare of animals by making the same as a fundamental duty of the citizens of India to respect and treat all living creatures with compassion.

  • Animal rights are protected under the Constitution of India. Article 51A(G) makes it a fundamental duty upon every citizen of India to “protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.”
  • According to Article 48, the state has the duty to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern, scientific lines and to take steps for preserving and improving breeds, prohibiting slaughter of cows and calves and other mulch and draught cattle.
  • Article 48A provides that the State (also) has the duty to protect, safeguard and improve the forests and wildlife of our country.
  • State List, Seventh Schedule, provides that the State has the power and authority to:Preserve, protect and improve stock and prevent animal diseases, and enforce veterinary training and practice.
  • Concurrent List, provides that both the Centre and the State have the power and authority toPrevent cruelty to animals, Protect wild animals and birds.
  • According to Article 243G, Eleventh Schedule, the Panchayati Raj institutions have the duty and authority to deal with matters relating toAnimal husbandry, dairying and poultry and Fisheries.


  • The Act was passed in 1960 and commenced in 1974. It is a central legislation regarding the animal protection in India. The Act came with a simple objective i.e. prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.
  • Section 3 lays down various duties of person to take care of an animal and not inflict harm on him. There are duties to advise Central government for making rules and prevent cruelty to animals.
  • Section 11 has explained different forms of cruelty to animals like killing them, not providing them food, shelter, water etc and is punishable by fine or imprisonment of up to 3 months or both.
  • Two large batches of rules under the PCA have been passed in the past 20 years, the first in 2001 and the second in 2017 and 2018. In 2001, rules pertaining to performing animals in circuses and movies, slaughterhouses, animal birth control, and the setting up of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA) were passed. In 2017 and 2018, rules on the regulation of shops that sell animals as pets, dog breeders, and livestock markets were passed.


  • This is another Central Act that provides for the protection of wild birds, animals, plants, etc.
  • According to Section2(37), wildlife includes any animal, aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat, thus making the definition a wide and inclusive one.
  • Section 9 of the Act prohibits the hunting of any wild animal (animals specified in Schedule 1, 2, 3 and 4) and punishes the offense with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years or with fine which may extend to Rs. 25,000or with both.
  • The Act allows the Central and State Government to declare any area ‘restricted’ as a wildlife sanctuary, national park etc. where any industrial activity in these areas is carried out and is prohibited under the Act.
  • Section 48A of the Act prohibits transportation of any wild animal, bird or plants except with the permission of the Chief Wildlife Warden or any other official authorised by the State Government.
  • Section 49 prohibits the purchase without license of wild animals from dealers.
  • Specifically, Section 50 and 51 of the Act define duties for prevention of cruelty against animals and punishment for the harm inflicted respectively.


  • Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code makes it illegal to maim or cause injury to any animal. It has also beenmade illegal for vehicles to purposefully injure dogs, cats and cows on the streets. A person who is caught violating these laws can be reported to the local animal protection group and to the police. A case can be filed under the mentioned sections.It is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years or fine or both, under S. 428 and under S. 429, the term is 5 years and is applicable when the cost of the animal is above Rupees 50.
  •  No sterilized dogs can be relocated from their areaUnder the Government of India, Animal Birth Control Rules 2001, no sterilized dogs can be relocated from their area. As per five different High Court Orders, sterilized dogs have to remain in their original areas. In case a dog is not sterilized, the society can just ask an animal welfare organization to sterilise and vaccinate the dog.


  • It is a worldwide practice that has been going on since ages that animals are subjected to experimentation and suffer in pain due to adverse effects of the same. Most exploited field of experimentation is medicine and cosmetic industry.
  • Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (Second Amendment) 2014, animal testing for cosmetic products was prohibited all over India.
  • Any person who violates it is liable for punishment for a term which may extend from 3 to 10 years or shall be liable to a fine which could be Rs.500 to Rs.10,000, or both.
  • According to Rule 135B of the Drugs and Cosmetic (Fifth Amendment) Rules 2014, no cosmetic that has been tested on animals shall be imported into the country.
  • A committee, established under the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act–The Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) released the Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1998 (amended in 2001 and 2006) that regulate the experimentation on animals.
  • Dissecting and experimenting on animals in schools and colleges was banned by UGC in India to avoid cruelty to animals, under the PCCA.


The PCA has been heavily criticised for being inadequate and for lacking thenecessary force to prevent atrocities towards animals. After coming in force, the act has not seen much changes or developments according to changing times. Laws in it have become highly outdated. However, considering the fact that the PCA is the primary legislation in India dealing with animal welfare, it is still hardly seen by the states to follow and implement it.

Cruelty against animals specified under 11(1) (a) to (o) of the Act, makes the offender (in the case of a first offence) liable to pay a fine that may extend to only fifty rupees. In the case of a second offence or a subsequent offence committed within three years of the previous offence, the offender shall be made to pay a fine of not less than twenty-five rupees, the quantum of which may also extend to one hundred rupees or the offender may be imprisoned for a term which may extend to three months or both. These punishments were made in 1960 and have not been amended since then. These fines are very petty in amount in today’s date and don’t make any difference or teach a lesson, let alone preventing such acts by the offenders. Basically, the act’s implementation has lost its ground. And now requires a huge amount of amendments in order to fulfil the objective of the act with which it was made in the first place.

The need of the hour is to bring proportionality in duties of a responsible citizen as well as punishment for the offenders, especially the ones who are repeated offenders. Also, it is important to create awareness about the same.



In the landmark Jallikattu judgement prohibiting the cruel and inhumane bull taming sport.Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja (‘Nagaraja’), Supreme Court recognised that acts of cruelty towards animals, enumerated under the said provision of the PCA, when allowed, isunconstitutional. In Nagaraja, it banned the sport of Jallikattu,as, in the opinion of the Court, the sport violated Section 3, Section 11(1)(a), Section11(1)(m), Section11(1)(n) and Section22 of the PCA (which relate to competitions or matches between animals, wherein animals are made to fight or perform), and Art. 51-A(g) and (h) of the Constitution (which are Fundamental duties under the Constitution).[3]

It is a landmark judgment not only because it extended the ambit of Article 21, which provides the fundamental right to life and liberty, to include animals as well but courts from across the world have cited the judgment as a path changing judgementwhich has altered the way world sees its non-human citizens. 


SC in the case of N.R. Nair v. Union of India, while upholding the validity of a notification issued by the Central Government, banning the training and exhibition of bears, monkeys, tigers and panthers, under Section 22(ii) of the PCA, opined that even though such duties are not legally enforceable in courts of law, the courts will uphold a reasonable restriction on relevant fundamental rights of humans if the State were to make a law which prohibited any act or conduct in violation of any of the duties towards animals.


The Delhi High Court has interestingly, in People for Animals v. Md. Mohazzim, recognised the fundamental right of birds to fly in the sky as against the right of humans to keep them in small cages for the purpose of their trade or business.

DESPITE, so many acts, rules and judgements, cruelty against animals never really stopped, even shockingly in recent times, such cases of cruelty have only been increased.

PETA in one of its reports has mentioned that, “If any society chooses to treat cruelty to animals lightly, they are encouraging violence towards humans too. That’s because research in psychology and criminology shows that people who commit acts of cruelty to animals often don’t stop there – many move on to hurting other animals or humans. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation has found that a history of animal abuse is one of the traits that regularly appears in the records of serial rapists and murderers.


  • In 2019 an incident of cruelty against animals in Uttar Pradesh took place where a tigress was brutally beaten with sticks, under a protected zone of the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve. 
  • In September 2019, in Bihar a video was recorded by few men where a nilgai (antelope) was pushed into a pitand buried alive, the same video surfaced internet heavily.
  • Very recently, there was a killing of pregnant elephant in Kerala, a pregnant cow from Himachal Pradesh and a jackal from Tamil Nadu. These incidents have been stated here together as these have the same method of cruelty used to seriously injure/kill them. In all three cases, those poor animals were fed explosives covered in fruits orany other kind of edibles.


There are a huge amount of amendments and changes that are required to be observed in order to stop and discourage such cruelties in country. The starting point should be increasing and bringing proportionality in punishments which have become absolutely outdated.

Establishing active welfare boards under the PCA in each and every state, taking cognizance and preventing such horrendous acts from happening.

Increasing public awareness and apathy towards animals and promoting the concept of treating animals equal to human beings.

There should not only an increase in monetary value of punishment but the same offences should be made non-cognizable where easy grant of bail is not an option.

And while there is a wait for laws to become stricter, we as responsible citizens should prevent happening of such cruelties, make people aware and educate them for having apathy towards animals and not stop demanding for better, stricter and strong laws for protection of animals.

  • [1] The Basis of Morality
  • [2]Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547, 89, 90
  • [3]Compassion Unlimited Plus Action v. Union of India, (2016) 3 SCC 53
  • [4]N.R. Nair v. Union of India, AIR 2000 Ker 340, 9.
  • [5]People for Animals v. Md. Mohazzim, 2015 SCC OnLine Del 9508

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