LAW GOVERNING ANIMAL CRUELTY IN INDIA: AN ANALYSIS

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She couldn’t control continuously tapping her feet with joy and ecstasy. She was going to be a mother soon. She over and over again, filled her trunk with water flowing through the nearby rivulet and squinter it upon herself. She couldn’t stop imagining about her child to be born soon.

Suddenly, enters M, a man holding a pineapple in his hand. M came closer to her and offered a pineapple. She immediately clutched the fruit in her trunk and bowed her head as sign of gratitude towards M. She was worried about the health of the child inside her than about her own hunger. M leaves.

As soon as she chomped the fruit, it exploded in her mouth. At that moment, she only thought about her unborn child. Everything started fading in front of her eyes. She started breathing heavily. She somehow musters courage to walk into the rivulet to calm her. She kept standing helpless there brooding, screaming and crying with pain. Alas, nobody came to her rescue. Soon she started panting heavily, her heart was beating rapidly and vision became fader. In her last moment also, she kept thinking about her unborn child. Sadly, she dies with tears in her eyes.

But the question here is not about the painful death of that Mother Elephant but death of humanity. This abominable incident has buried humanity ten fathoms deep with no chance of resurrection.

This write-up seeks to enlighten the readers regarding the laws in apropos to such animal cruelty and brutality.

In India, we have several laws with respect to Animal protection. Ranging from the law of the land, our Constitution to quintessential laws like the Wildlife Protection Act and Prevention to Cruelty of Animals Act.

Animal Protection under the Constitution of India

The land of the land itself contains several provision concerning to animal safeguard and welfare. Let us take a look at them.

  • Article 51A(G) makes it a fundamental duty upon every citizen of India to protect wildlife and have compassion for all 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 milch and draught cattle.
  • Article 48A provides that the State also has a duty to protect, safeguard and improve the forests and wildlife of the country.
  • In List II (State List), Seventh Schedule, it is provided that the State has the power and authority to:

Preserve, protect and improve stock and prevent animal diseases, and enforce veterinary training and practice.

  • In List III (Concurrent List), it is provided that both the Centre and the State have the power and authority to:
    • Prevent cruelty to animals.
    • Protect wild animals and birds.
  • Under the Eleventh Schedule (Article 243 G), the Panchayati Raj institutions have the duty and authority to deal with matters relating to:
    • Animal husbandry, dairying and poultry.
      • Fisheries

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960      

It is the Central Legislation regarding animal protection in India. The object of the Act is to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.

The Section 4 of the Act provides for the Establishment of Animal Welfare Board of India for the promotion of animal welfare generally for the purpose of protecting animals from being subjected to unnecessary pain or suffering.

Also, Section 11 provides that, if any person beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering or causes or, being the owner permits, any animals to be so treated wilfully and unreasonably administers any injurious drug or injurious substance to[any animal] or wilfully and unreasonably causes or attempts to cause any such drug or substance to be taken by [any animal]

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 

Wildlife protection which is based on the ecosystem approach and a regulatory regime of command and control is the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. The objectives of this enactment were three fold, i.e., to have a uniform legislation on wildlife throughout the country to establish a network of protected areas, i.e., National Parks and Sancturies and to regulate illicit trade in wildlife and its products.

Section 51 of the Act deals with penalties for contravening provisions of the Act. This section does not mention ‘mens rea‘ as one of the essential requirements for punishing a person under the  Act.

It provides that, any person who contravenes any provision of this or any rule or order made there under or who commits a breach of any of the conditions of any licence or permit granted under this Act, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act, and shall, on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees or with both. Provided that where the offence committed is in relation to any animal specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II or meat of any such animal or animal article, trophy or uncured trophy derived from such animal or where the offence relates to hunting in, a Sanctuary or a National Park or altering the boundaries of a sanctuary or a National Park, such offence shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but may extend to seven years and also with fine which shall not be less than ten thousand rupees. On commission of a second or subsequent offence of the nature mentioned above, the term of imprisonment shall not be less than three years but may extend to seven years and also with fine which shall not be less than twenty five thousand rupees.

Conclusion

Although a lot of very elaborate and specific animal protection laws have been passed in India, they are often not properly implemented. It is so because concerned citizens and NGOs do not often emphasize on taking the legal pathway to accomplish results. At the same time, it is imperative to realize that the legislation that we currently have in India is not sufficiently strong and reasonable so as to make great change. The general anti-cruelty parts in Section 11 of the PCAA can be made a lot more effective by increasing the punishment and fine to some extent.

The laws can be made more stringent and all-encompassing so that animals of all kinds, be it street animals, wild animals, and animals residing in all types of habitat are protected and preserved.

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Gauri verma

Gauri verma

She is a young Advocate who aspires a position in Indian Judiciary. She has keen interest in study of forensic science and civil liberties. To augment her interest in area of research, she has authored and co-authored numerous papers and presented papers in various seminars and conferences. An inquisitive eclectic, a movie buff and a voracious reader; environmentalism and philanthropy entice her.