The history tells us about how early man has survived in his era by making
animal hunting as his basic survival hobby. But looking forward in the present
era things has changed drastically where animal hunting is crime under the eyes
of Law. Animal Poaching
understanding the above-mentioned term is not only a
subject of brain for one but it is subjected to heart as well. On a simple note,
poaching means illegal killing, hunting or capturing of animals.
The main agenda
behind the act of poaching is for the trade of animal products like animal skin,
tooth, horn, bones, etc. Animal poaching is not only something that is a
worrying subject in domestic area but on an international level. Because the act
of animal poaching has adverse effect on animal species which is resulting in
extinction of these species. To control this particular act the countries have
come up with legal regulations for safeguarding the wildlife.
India is one of
the blessed countries in the world to have abundant "wildlife and natural
beauty". To combat the poaching acts in the country India has come up with the
laws relating to the animal poaching with time to time. In this paper, we are
going to discuss legal provisions relating to the animal poaching.
"The greatness of the nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its
animals are treated"- Mahatma Gandhi
The above quote emphasis real and raw taught for the upliftment of the
protection of wildlife. In Indian culture where its root is oriented from
Hinduism, animals were treated with due respect which was a true hobby from its
Puranas and Ithihas but on the other hand we must admit that animal poaching was
also an engaging matter in India.
Animal poaching can said to be the illegal hunting, killing or capturing of wild
animals. Poaching of the animals has always been included in the human life
activities since the early period the survival is based on animal products like
skin, their nails etc. The perception on this particular topic had been changed
since the years on the moral sense as well as well in the legal sense.
India, the is seventh largest country in the world has 4 out of the 36
bio-diversity hotspots1 in the world. Has been labelled as home to the rare
species ranging from Bengal Tigers to Great Indian Rhinoceros. The protection of
animals from animal cruelty to the animal poaching has seen a prominent change
since years. Not only as a moral obligation but as a legal obligation as well.
The protection of animals was a fundamental duty in Indian Constitution and
there are serval laws relating to the animal welfare from anti-poaching to
animal cruelty, which makes us, believe the importance that the Indian Judiciary
has allocated for the animal welfare.
Laws relating to animal poaching in India
Right from the Constitution of India to other acts, there has been the laws that
relates to animal welfare in the Indian Judiciary. Laws relating to poaching is
also mentioned in these laws. In this paper, I would like to mention some of the
precedents that took place along with laws relating to poaching in India.
Recommendation & Suggestions
- Constitution of India
The Constitution of India makes it the "duty of every citizen of India to
protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers
and wildlife and to have comparisons for all creatures."2 Under provision 51 A
On the other hand, the constitutional duty of animal protection is supplemented
by the Directive Principles of State Policy under the provision of article 48A. 3
Both the above-mentioned provisions were introduced by the 42th amendment in the
year 1976. While these provisions were not directly enforced in the Indian
courts they lay down the foundation for the laws, legislation, polices for the
state and centre related to animal welfare, which involves provisions relating
to poaching as well.
- Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
This Act consists of 60 sections, VI schedules divided under VIII chapters. It
is one of the most important Act functioning for the protection of the animals.
It provides authorities to implement and administrate the Act, regulate the
hunting of wild animals protect specified plants, sanctuaries, national parks
and closed areas, restrict illegal trade and commerce in wild animals or animal
articles and miscellaneous matters. Section 39 of this Act4 specifies that any
wild animal hunted, bred, fed, found killed, alive or dead shall be property of
State Government. Section 9 of this Act provides prohibition of hunting of wild
- Sansar v. State 6
In the above-mentioned case, the Court did not grant the relief to the notorious
poacher of wild animal under section of 497 and 578 of this Act.
- GR Simon v. Union of India 9
In this case the petitioner, who had a leather material made out of snake skin
questioned the constitutional validity of this Act. And argued that it is
colorable legislation which is challenging the fundamental right i.e article
19(1) (g) of the Indian Constitution that is to carry out any trade and commerce
The honorable Delhi High Court stated that under WPA, 1972 (1991
Amendment)10 states that any activity against the public interest and cause harm
to society is prohibited and animal are very important part of our natural
society. Thus, they should be protected. Hence the WPA, 1972 (1991 Amendment) is
- Babaran Kumawat v. Union of India 11
An Ivory trader who was poaching the wild elephants and was selling it in the
name of Mammoth Ivory was punished under this Act.
- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
This Act aims at the animal welfare, which enables the penalty to offenders for
cruelty to animals. In year 2017, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and
Climate change has released new Gazette notifications under this Act to Dog
breeding, animal markets, Aquarium and pet a Fish shop owner.
Section 11(1) (a) to (o)12 of this Act prescribes and enumerates different forms
of cruelty to animals. It provides that any crime against the animals with
imprisonment and fine.
In 2017, the cruelties were mentioned not to take place in markets such as hot
branding and cold branding, mutilating animal ears, force-feeding animal's fluid
to make them come out fatter to fetch and better price more 13.
- Animal Welfare Board Of India v. A. Nagaraja and Ors 14
Also known as Jallikattu case. Is a landmark recent judgment where the Supreme
Court of India held for the rights of the animals breaking all the religious,
traditional barriers and banned the large scaled practice of bull cart racing in
the southern state of India.
i.e. Tamil Nadu inspite of the repugnancy (i.e. in conflict or incompatible
with) on the concerned matter between provisions of the State Act i.e. the TNRJ
Act (Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009) and the Central Act i.e. the
PCA Act. In addition, this judgment was appreciated by many animal welfare
organizations all over the world. This was a great significant judgment
reflecting the conscience of the judiciary of India and legal system toward the
matters of animal welfare.
"Supreme Court observed 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 subtle devices do not defeat
benefits conferred by such remedial and welfare legislations. Court has got the
duty that, in every case, where ingenuity is expanded to avoid welfare
legislations, to get behind the smoke-screen and discover the true state of
Court can go behind the form and see the substance of the devise for
which it has to pierce
the veil and examine whether the guidelines or the regulations are framed so as
to achieve some other purpose than the welfare of the animals. Regulations or
guidelines, whether statutory or otherwise, if they purport to dilute or defeat
the welfare legislation and the constitutional principles, Court should not
hesitate to strike them down so as to achieve the ultimate object and purpose of
the welfare legislation. Court has also a duty under the doctrine of parent's
patriate to take care of the rights of animals, since they are unable to take
care of themselves as against human beings."15
Moreover, on the hand it was labelled that the case was the grand asset from the
"The court spoke of how this uncivilized event violates the Prevention of
Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) and militates the constitutional duty of treating
animals with compassion, Article 51 A (g). It also reiterated the expansive
reading it had given in the past, to Article 21 (Right to Life), which prohibits
any disturbance to the environment, including animals, considered essential for
human life. And the apex court went well beyond and delivered a judgment that
essentially upholds the right to a dignified life for all animals. Any law that
attempts to reverse this carefully evolved jurisprudence cannot stand the test
of constitutional propriety"16
- Indian Penal Code, 1960
Section 428 and 429 of IPC17 reads that killing, poaching, maiming, poisoning or
torturing an animal is a cognizable offence and immediately FIR must be filled
in the police station. The punishment for such act is rigours imprisonment,
which may extent to five years or fine or both.
These provisions are very much important for safeguarding the rights of animals
and animal welfare. These laws also add the strength to the laws relating to
poaching of animals which also enumerates the penal provision for punishment for
the act as well.
- Other Laws
Apart from above mentioned Laws there are other Laws such as The prohibition of
animal sacrifice Act which is subjected to only few states in India. And
Experiment on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1968 etc and these laws
partially deals with poaching act.
Over the years the animal laws in India have been amended and made possible to
make the drastic changes for the effective implementation of these Laws. On the
other hand, still, animals were not free from being subjected to cruelty such as
poaching. Poaching also involves illegal trade of animals which is a
multi-billion-dollar business which isn't only a domestic problem but
international as well. The 42nd amendment can be said to be the torch-barer for
animal laws which has come in the year 1976. Moving on to the Acts the
provisions were really a genuine attempt for the benefit of the animal welfare
but somewhere lacking in the practical applicability.
The main drawback was the negligible penalties of the PCA Act and some other
Acts that are acting as the spoilers for the implementation of the objectives of
these animal laws. "G. Dowlat Khan an inspector with SPCA (Society for the
Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals) for the past 33 years said that outdated
legal provisions, that abysmally low fine amount and shortage of inspectors had
resulted in increased cruelty towards the animals of late."18
Awareness Among The Public
The main objective for the fulfilment of the need and urge of the animal welfare
can be achieved through the public awareness this should be the main target for
the government as well the organizations that taking care of the animals. Even
in schools and educational institutions there should be special classes for the
animal welfare. This public awareness can't be achieved until and unless people
were educated about this particular topic.
Uniform Animal Welfare Law
The Animal Welfare Board of India has drafted a Draft Animal Welfare Act which
has covered almost all of the necessary rectification that are to be made in the
present PCA Act, 1960, thus it should be brought into force by the parliament in
place of the PCA Act as soon as possible. Currently the penalty for cruelty to
animals is between Rs 10 to 50 for the first offence, which may go up to Rs 100
for a subsequent offence or up to three months in prison.
The draft Bill, if
passed in its current form, would result in the penalty for cruelty to animals
being between Rs 10,000 and 25,000 or imprisonment for up to two years- or both-for a first offence. For a subsequent offence, the penalty would be between
50,000 rupees and one lakh rupees and imprisonment for one to three years.
It also recognizes various rights of the animals. It also has provision
regarding the establishment of state animal welfare board which would highly
help in the implementation and enforcement of the laws made in this draft. Its
Section-14 reads Each State Animal Welfare Board shall ensure that the Act and
the Rules framed under this Act are given widespread publicity in the State, and
that due and adequate training is provided to all government officers who are
required to enforce the provisions of this Act and the Rules made there under.
However, some may say that there is ambiguity relating to experimentation of
animals, I think that this draft bill is the need of the time which should be
enacted at the earliest without any further a due.
On the final note of this paper, I would like conclude it by saying that animal
poaching is an illegal activity that should be eradicated from the human
culture. Animal poaching is not only a subject of law but on the other hand; it
is matter of human heart. This particular topic need more of human attention.
Because we knew that if there is something important on this Erath that will
definitely be "LIFE". Now the question is only Human life.
The answer will definitely be no it is applicable to all the species on this
Earth. So, it the fundamental right of the human being to save the life of the
animals as well. Killing of an animal for the trade purpose is something that
describes the ill thinking nature of the
humans. The killing of the animal is no exception because in my view when we
have no power to create or generate a life to any species then we do not have
any right to take away the life of the other species. Animal poaching shouldn't
be the lesson that we teach to our future generations already we have seen
animal species which were not in existence except in books and videos.
The Indian Laws relating to the animal poaching should be very much effective as
compared to the present days. Still the fever of animal poaching is in existence
in India. On the other hand the organization and NGO's working for the welfare
of animals should focus on the awareness programs along with laws and penalties
that is present in the Indian Judiciary relating to the crimes against animals.
Killing of animal in the name of self-defense should also be look after in
Indian Laws. In most genuine cases we must give a sign of relief but the cause
for the act should be clearly be said.
Written By: Chalasani Jainesh
- 36 Global Biodiversity hotspots, available at www.environmentbuddy.com/endangered-wildlife/list-of- biodiversity-hotspots-examples/ ( visited on January 30,
- The Constitution of India, Article 51 A (g).
- The Constitution of India, Article 48A.
- The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, Section 39.
- The Wild Life (protection) Act, 1972, Section 5.
- AIR 1994 del. 13, 1994 DRJ 281.
- The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, Section 49.
- The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, Section 57.
- AIR 1997 Del.267.
- Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 1991.
- AIR 2003 SC 3268
- The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act, 1970, Section 11 (a) to (o).
- India passes new rules to protect animals, available at https://www.petaindia.com/blog/india-passes-new- rules-protect-animals/ (Last Modified May 27, 2017).
- SLP ( C ) CC..4268 OF 2013.
- Mariamma.A.K, Case Comment on "Animal Welfare Board of India VS. A. Nagaraja
& Others, Vol. 2 Issue one Journal of Legal Analysis And Research 24, 36
- Sruthisagar Yamunan, Taming bulls, maming rights, The Times of
at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Two-men-tie-up-cow-rape-stab-it/articleshow/951733.cms (Last Visited January 31, 2021).
- Indian Penal Code, 1960, section 428, 429
- Cruelty to Animal on the rise, available at https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/cruelty-to-animals- on-the-rise/article5076494.ece (Last Visited 31 January, 2021)