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Animal Rights in India: The Unheard Pleas of India's Stray Sentinels

"If A Man Aspires Towards A Righteous Life, His First Act Of Abstinence Is From Injury To Animals." -- Albert Einstein.

Today the people are concerned for their own rights, and always ensure that they utilize their rights to the maximum, but what about animal rights, the various laws, statutes, and judgements have conferred numerous rights to the animals. But the question arises whether these rights and laws are used for the benefits and welfare of the animals?

Even after these rules, regulations, laws, and judgements, the cruelty cases in India are rising day by day. According to the report of Times of India, there are approximately 6.2 crore stray dogs and 91 lakh street cats in India, with 77% of the country population reporting seeing a stray dog at least once a week. The lives of these endearing living creatures are extravagant for us, but the reality is different even today they become subject to cruelty, and the main cause of the cruelty is lack of recognition of animal rights, if we give the same value and attention to the animal rights as human rights than the things might change.

In the case of Animal Welfare Board of India v/s A. Nagaraja and others

The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India was concerned with viewing the rights of the animals under the Constitution, culture, laws, traditions, and religion in connection with the conduct of Jallikattu, bullock cart races etc, in the states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. In the present case the Petitioner were Animal Welfare Board, Peta, Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, Federation of India Animal Protection Organisation and Animal Equality and the respondent were Union of India, State of Tamil Nadu and State of Maharasthra. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in this case has explained the rights of animals in accordance to various laws, statutes governing animal laws. The Hon'ble Court spell out that "life" means something more than mere survival or existence or instrumental value for human:beings, but to lead a life with some intrinsic worth, honour, and dignity.

Animals' welfare, well being and safety have been lawfully and statutorily recognized under sections 3 to 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and this act not only provides the sections governing animal laws but also define their rights. Right to live in a healthy and clean atmosphere, right to get protection from human beings against inflicting unnecessary pain or suffering, right to get food and shelter, right to live with dignity and fair treatment, right, not to be kicked, beaten, over loading or over ridden these are the rights which are recognized by Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

Thus, the Hon'ble Supreme Court in this case has recognized and defined various rights of animals and thus held that, Jallikattu, bullock:cart race and such events per se violate Sections 3, 11(1)(a) and 11(1)(m)(ii) of PCA act and Article 21 of Indian Constitution that is Protection of life Personal liberty expressly applies over animals also.

Laws Governing Animal Rights in India

The Constitution of India.
The Constitution of India under Part 4 that is Directive Principle of State Policy makes it compulsory for every State to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country. This is provided under Article 48A of the Indian Constitution as:
  • The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forest and wild life of the country.
  • Further Article 48A of Indian Constitution is guided by the Fundamental Duty enlisted under Part 4A, Article 51:A (g) of the Constitution which reads as �
  • To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures.
  • Both the above Constitutional provisions were introduced by the 42nd Amendment in 1976.

The Indian Penal Code, 1860

The Indian Penal Code under sections 428 and 429 describes the offences which are against animals and are punishable by law. These punishments provided under section 428 and 429 help to protect animals against torture.

Section 428: Mischief by Killing or maiming animal of the value of ten rupees.

In simple words according to this section whoever intentionally causes any harm such as poisoning, maiming or rendering useless or kills any animal or animals of the value of ten rupees or upwards, can be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

Section 429: Mischief by killing or maiming cattle, etc, of any value or any animal of the value of fifty rupees.

In simple words according to this section, whoever intentionally causes any harm such as poisoning, maiming or rendering useless or kills any elephant, camel, horse, mule, buffalo, bull, cow, or ox, whatever may be the value or any other animal of the value of fifty rupees or upwards, can be punished with imprisonment which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is an Act of the Parliament enacted in 1960 to save animals from any kind of torture and to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to animals. Section 4 under Chapter 2nd of the Act provides for the establishment of Animal Welfare Board of India that act as a governing body to promote and enforce the act.

Section 11 under Chapter 3rd of the Act lists different forms of cruelty which are banned by the Act including treating any animal to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering, ownership, employ animals, confinement of any animal, unnecessary chaining of any animal, abending any animal, transportation of animals. Chapter 4th of the Act deals with experimentation on animals. This Act does not ban the experiment on animals to enhance the knowledge, but it allows the Animal Welfare Board of India to advise the Central Government to create a committee for the purpose to frame guidelines, and to supervise and control the experiments on animals.

This committee is known as Committee for Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA), the basic objective is to frame such guidelines to promote humans like care of the animals used for experiments. Chapter 5th of the Act outlines the procedure and restrictions for registration, offences to and exemptions for performing animals. This Act does not expressly prohibit any animal from training but allows the Central Government to deem an animal prohibited through the notifications in the Official Gazette.

However, Section 28 under Chapter 6th of the Act, is a saving clause that read as:
  • Nothing contained in this Act shall render it an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community.

Wild Life Protection Act, 1972:

The Wild Protection Act, 1972 is the Act of Parliament enacted in 1972 with the purpose framing and providing the legal framework for the protection of various species of plants and wild animals.

Other Rules and Regulations:
Dog Breeding and Marketing Rules, 2017.

Dog Breeding and Marketing Rules, 2017 are the rules made by the Central Government, to regulate breeding and marketing of dogs. Such as breeders must possess licence to breed and sell, pups must be a minimum of two months old, and dogs cannot be displayed for immediate sale.

Animal Birth Control Rules (2001):
  • The Animal Birth Control Rules: Made by the Central Government, these rules provide for sterilization, vaccination, immunisation, and release of stray dogs to control the stray dog population.
  • Establishment of Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA): The SPCA Rules, 2001, were made by the Central Government, mandating that every state government should establish these societies in each district for the prevention of cruelty to animals.
  • The Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA): A statutory body set up under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, tasked with formulating guidelines to ensure humane care of animals used in research.

Slaughter House Rules, 2001

Slaughter House Rules, 2001 were became effective on 26th March, 2001 with a purpose to regulate the area which can be used as slaughter house and the manner of slaughter and the type of animal which can be slaughtered.

The Transport of Animals Rules, 1978.
The Transport of Animals Rules, 1978, these rules have been formulated by the Central Government to provide framework regarding the conditions to which different animals can be transported by road, inland, rail, waterway, sea, or air. With the objective to save animals from any kind of cruelty.

Reality of animal's condition in India.
Even after these laws, rules, and regulations the animals are exploited they become subjected to torment, abuse, and ill: treatment by human beings just to fulfil their own purpose and motive. Various ways by which human inflicts pain and suffering to animals.

Animal Transport:
Irrespective of The Transport of Animals Rules, 1978 the harsh reality is that this transportation period acts as a period of torture for the animals the consignor and consignee does not abide by the prescribed rules and regulations as result inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering to the animals. The animals are provided with no shadow, despite extensive temperature and weather conditions, they are forced to starve, till the time they reach their destinations with lack of food and water supply. The loading and unloading of cattle are brutal, rather than using ramps they are beaten and pushed with sticks.

Goats and Chickens are transported in minimal size containers with their legs tied together. Goats are even transported through bike and car rickshaws with their legs tied and one person holding them, and chickens in bicycles, scooters or in trucks, because of overloading cattle are pushed into the loading area, standing next to each other with lack of space or forced onto their knees and tied to the ground. Due to these situations transportation of animals from one place to another become the most terrifying moments in their lives as result causes dehydration, stress, discomfort, weight loss, and fatigue.

Slaughter houses:

Slaughter House Rules 2000, were made to regulate the areas and manners in which the animals can be slaughtered in slaughter houses. According to these rules any person can slaughter an animal only in a recognized and a licensed slaughter house and in no other place in the municipal area and no animal which is pregnant, or is under the age of 3 months or has an offspring less than 3 months or has not certified by the veterinary doctor to be in a fit condition for slaughter can be slaughtered. But in slaughter houses these rules are grossly violated animals are killed in full view of other animals, they are not stunned before being killed, this means that their throats are cut with a knife while they are still conscious and able to feel pain, they are removed from a truck in a casual manner, causing serious injuries to them, dead goats, buffaloes and sheep's are left lying around at the transport areas and animal market, workers did not check whether the animals are dead or not, before beginning the process of peeling off their skins, sometimes they are conscious and is able to feel the pain. Many illegal slaughter houses are also operating in India.

According to the report of PETA INDIA, there are an estimated 30,000 unlicenced and illegal slaughter houses in India. PETA was also involved with Supreme Court case against illegal transportation and killing of animals in slaughter houses from 2004 to 2017. In February 2017, the Supreme Court ordered all State Governments and union territories to comply with the prescribed rules and regulations, but only a handful of states have made progress so far. Many illegal meat shops are also operating in road side areas without any license in which animals are slaughtered in most cruel manners without any precautions as a result inflicting unnecessary pain and suffering.

Dairy Industries:

Even in the dairy industries animals are exploited, till they produce milk they are provided food and shelter but when they stop producing milk they are slaughtered for their skin and meat. Calves are separated from their mother just after one day of their birth so that they do not consume their mother milk and the milk can used for business. Separating a calve from their mother is highly immoral. In firm's animals are given medicines, artificial feeds, and chemicals so that they quickly grew up and gives milk in large quantity. According to the report of Times of India, research and a study undertaken by Pune:based animals rights organisation has revealed how numerous industries in India are undertaking various cruel and illegal practises.

The organization conducted this research and study from 2021:22, which covered 27 dairy farms, six animal markets and two slaughter houses. Amruta Ubale, senior director of public affairs at Animal Equality said," The findings of our study are standard practises in all kinds of dairies in villages and cities" and this study concluded that once the calf is born, he is separated from the mother within minutes and prevent them from feeding from mother. Male calves are either sold for slaughter or starved to death as they do not produce any milk. Ubale also said that workers were also found to inject the buffaloes with oxytocin, a banned drug to stimulate their production of milk and the butchers routinely kill animals in full view of others, this is how the animals are treated just like a commodity in dairy farms.

Performing Animals:

Many animals such as Tigers, elephants, beers, monkeys are used as performing animals, they are trained to perform unusual acts for the entertainment of humans. This process of training can be cruel for the animals, they are brutalized to perform painful movements against their will. Animals are not the actors, and they are not made by the god to perform all these silly and difficult moves and tasks. The animal trainers use sticks, tight collars, electric prods, muzzles, and other painful tools to train them, and even they are not given the food according to their requirement.

Causes of Animal Abuse:

Lack of affection towards animals:
Lack of affection towards animals is one of the causes of increasing animal abuse day by day. People does not treat animals as living creature; they do not emphasize on the fact that just like humans they are also fond of love and care.

Lack of implementation of laws:
Apart from the prescribed laws, rules, and regulation the problem is the lack of implementation of such laws and rules. The people engaged in various activities related to animals does not abide by the prescribed laws, as a result it led to animal abuse and cruelty.

Lack and delay of action:
Reports related to animal abuse are taken for granted in India, either a minimal punishment such as small fine is given to the accused and in maximum number of cases the accused is acquitted without any punishment, as a result people does not have any fear of law.

Lack of awareness:
Lack of awareness among people related to available remedies and rights of the animals is also one of the main causes of animal abuse.

To prevent animal abuse, the pet owners and other who handle, take care of them, or otherwise interact with animals must alter their attitude towards them by developing a feeling of compassion and sympathy. While punishment and enforcement are critical for fighting cruelty to animals, it is equally important to address animal abuse through education, legislative reforms, behavioural and attitude changes. Campaigns must be organised with an aim to increase awareness that animal abuse and cruelty is a serious offence, to encourage people to report cases of animal abuse, so that in coming years cases of animal abuse and cruelty can be minimized.

  1. Raj Kantak, Stray free India: A revolution that can give every pet a new lease on life, THE TIMES OF INDIA, January 24, 2023, 2:58 PM IST,
  2. Animal Welfare Board of India V. A. Nagaraja and others, (2014) 7 SCC 547
  3. India Const. art. 48A
  4. India Const. art. 51:(A), cl. (g)
  5. The Indian Penal Code 1860, Act No. 45, Act of Parliament, 45 of 1860
  6. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Act No. 59, Act of Parliament 59 of 1960 (India)
  7. The Committee for Purpose of control and supervision of experiments on animals,
  9. Animal Welfare Board of India,
  10. Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to animals,
  11. The Committee for Purpose of control and supervision of experiments on animals,
  12. Animal Welfare Board of India,
  13. Animal welfare Board of India,
  14. Ask State to close illegal slaughter houses,
  15. Neha Madaan, Animal Equality uncovers cruel and illegal practices of the dairy Industry, THE TIMES OF INDIA, (Jan 25, 2023, 11:08 IST),

Written By: Ishita Choudhary, 2nd year law student from Graphic Era Hill University, Dehradun, Uttarakhand.

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