The posit of supremacy by man over nature has led to conflicts with nature. The
burgeoning human population and its multifarious requisites are leading to an
elevation in the conflicts between man and natural resources/lives. Even the
wildlife has come at squabble with human beings owing to the pre-emption of
their natural habitats.
The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts.
-Bhagavad Gita; Chapter 15, Verse 7
Many drivers of conflicts are impecunious management, misguided clearance
decisions, and apathy. 99 percent of currently threatened species are in peril
from human activities, primarily those driving habitat loss, the exordium of
exotic species, and global warming. Animals are a hugely consequential part
of the human world, relied upon for aliment, utilized as research models,
companions, working animals, for sport and in recreation. Virtually proximately
all religions recognize the innate value of animal life and the desideratum to
evade animal suffering.
Henry Stephens Salt inscribed the first book entirely devoted to animal rights,
published in 1892 - Animals Rights: Considered in relation to social progress.
He sought to impress people not to kill or victual animals and submitted that
such comportment is the distinction of a civilized society. British Zoologist
William M.S. Russel and the microbiologist Rex L. Burch in 1959 propounded 3Rs
tenets or framework for humane animal research - replacement, reduction, and
The Brambell Report (UK Technical Committee to Enquire into the Welfare of
Animals kept under Intensive Livestock Husbandry Systems) in December 1965
verbally expressed that farm animals should have liberation to stand up, lie
down, turn around, groom themselves and stretch their limbs.
These Five Freedoms of animals have been widely accepted as a verbalization of
fundamental principles of animal welfare. These freedoms as updated are
liberation from hunger, thirst, and malnutrition; liberation from fear and
distress; liberation from physical and thermal discomfort; liberation from pain,
injury and disease; and liberation to express mundane patterns of demeanour. These
freedoms are recognized in India under Sections 11 (1), 12 ,14, 19 etc of
Prevention of Cruelty Act,1960; Sections 30,31,32, 33A etc. of Wildlife
Protection Act,1972 and so on.
Further, The Constitution of India indirectly apperceives the rights of
animals. The unique feature of the Constitution of India is that it sanctions
representatives to assert the interests of animals in Courts and thereby
engenders a readymade mechanism. The notion of Public Interest Litigations
materialized in India in the 1980s. The judiciary sanctions such representative
actions under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution.
The worsening condition of animals in India perpetuates to prevail in spite of
the subsisting legislative framework dealing with animals. Hundreds of animals
are sacrificed and utilized as performing animals in diverse religious cultural
events throughout the country.
As many as 2406 cases were registered under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Act, 1960 in 2017 but low conviction numbers and meagre fines have seen a spurt
in crimes against animals recently and people are not reporting the crimes
anymore due to laughable fines as it can be seen that lowest number of cases
ever registered in India were registered in 2017.
Synopsis of Breach of Rights of Animals in India
- Endangered Species and Extinction: India has 988 species on
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
(IUCN)32 ‘Red List as of 2018 more species were integrated to the List of
threatened species. In the mammals category, 96 mammals species, 82
bird species and 53 species of reptiles, amphibians, and fishes are 75 and
214 respectively, 7 molluscs, 128 other invertebrates are imperilled.
- Conforming to The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, in India,
you can get away with being cruel to most animals by paying a fine of
anything between Rs 10 and Rs 50. If you reiterate the offense within three
years, the penalty may go up to anything between Rs 25 and Rs 100. You could
additionally be thrown in confinement for three months. But that s about
The true nature of laws can only be understood by going through the judgments of
the Courts. Any legal solutions and conclusions remain half-baked until views of
the Courts are taken into account. The Courts played an active role to bulwark
the rights of animals on one hand. Concurrently, in a few cases, they failed to
forfend them and their rights. Indian judiciary is often accredited for its role
in bulwarking the natural environment and upholding the right to a safe
The consequential role has been played by the Indian judiciary in efficaciously
implementing the provisions of assorted statutes conserving the rights of
animals. The main aspects settled by it are the slaughter of animals‟ vis-a-vis
Constitution of India, rights of performing animals, harmony between bulwark of
animal and religious animal sacrifice, etc.
In Centre for Environment Law, WWF-I v. Union of India & Others
was observed by the apex court that - human beings have an obligation to obviate
the species from extinction and have to advocate for an efficacious species
aegis regime. No state, organization or person can claim ownership or possession
over wild animals in the forest.
Animals in the wild are properties of the nation for which no state can claim
ownership and the state s obligation is to insulate the wildlife and safeguard
it, for ascertaining the ecological and environmental security of the country.
Further, the Court has given the following guidelines regarding the
protection of animals and these guidelines are discussed as follows:
- The government of India and the MoEF (ministry of environment and
forests) must take exigent steps for the preservation of those imperilled
species as well as to initiate recuperation programs.
- The Government of India and the MoEF are directed to identify, as
already highlighted by National Wildlife Action Plan, all imperilled species
of flora and fauna, study their needs and survey their environs and habitats
to establish the current level of security and the nature of threats. They
should withal conduct periodic reviews of flora and fauna species status,
and correlate the same with the IUCN Red Data List every three years.
- Courts and environmentalists should pay more attention for implementing
the recuperation programs and the same be carried out with ingenuity and
In Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) v. A. Nagaraja and Ors it was
held by the Hon ble Supreme Court of India that every species has an
intrinsically right to live and shall be safeguarded by law. Lordships have
further held that so far animals are concerned, life denotes something more than
mere survival or subsistence or instrumental value for human beings, but to lead
a life with some intrinsic worth, accolade, and dignity.
An animal has withal accolade and dignity which cannot be arbitrarily deprived
of. Lordships held that Article 51 (g) and (h) are Magna Carta for protecting
the lives of animals. The right to dignity and equitable treatment is, ergo, not
confined to human beings alone, but to animals as well. Right, not to be beaten,
kicked, over-ridden, overloading is withal a right apperceived by Section 11
read with Section 3 of the PCA Act. Animals have withal a right against human
beings not to be tortured and against the infliction of nonessential pain or
Penalty for contravention of these rights is nugatory since laws are made by
humans. The penalization prescribed in Section 11(1) is not commensurate with
the gravity of the offense.
The Court inter alia made the following declarations and directions:
- Declared that the five freedoms, referred to earlier be read into
Sections 3 and 11 of the PCA Act, be bulwarked and safeguarded by the
Governments (including state and UTs), MoEF and AWBI.
- Directed the AWBI and Government to take felicitous steps to visually
perceive that the persons-in-charge or care of animals, take plausible
measures to ascertain the salubrity of animals. AWBI and the governments
would additionally optically discern that even in cases, where Section 11(3)
is involved the animals, be not put to dispensable pain and suffering and
adequate and scientific methods are adopted to achieve equipollency.
- Directed that the AWBI and the governments should take steps to impart
inculcation in cognition to human treatment of animals in accordance with
Section 9(k) inculcating the spirit of Articles 51A(g) & (h) of the
- Declared that the Parliament is expected to make a felicitous amendment
of the PCA Act to provide an efficacious deterrent to achieving the object
and purport of the Act and for infringement of Section 11, adequate
penalties and penalizations should be imposed.
- Declared that the Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of
animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many of the countries
around the world, so as to forfend their dignity and accolade.
- Declared that The Governments would optically discern that if the
provisions of the PCA Act and the declarations and the directions issued by
this Court are not opportunely and efficaciously complied with, disciplinary
action is taken against the erring officials so that the purport and object
of PCA Act could be achieved.
- Directed AWBI to take efficacious and expeditious steps to implement the
provisions of the PCA Act in consultation with SPCA (state acts) and make
periodical reports to the governments and if any infringement is described,
the Regimes should take steps to remedy identically tantamount, including
congruous follow-up action.
Is Moral Status of Animals Justifiable
Some contend that there is an answer that can differentiate humans from the
remainder of the natural world. Many of those who accept this answer are
intrigued by justifying certain human practices towards non-humans—practices
that cause pain, discomfort, suffering, and death. This second group expects
that in responding to issue in a certain means, people are likely to be
justified in giving ethical consideration to many other people that is neither
needed nor justified when contemplating non-human animals. In contrast to
this view, an incrementing number of philosophers have argued that while humans
are different in a variety of ways from each other and other animals, these
differences do not provide a philosophical bulwark for gainsaying non-human
animals moral consideration. What the substratum of moral consideration is and
what it amounts to has been the source of many discrepancies.
As a consequence, we are increasingly liable to face ethical dilemmas over the
value of human versus non-human life. It won t be in the form of an expeditious
decision to kill an animal to preserve the life of a child. These dilemmas will
play out in courtrooms and parliaments, as human needs are pitted against
environmental ones, and as the battle for natural resources brings threats of
deforestation and species extinction. As we edge ever more proximate to the
brink of the Earth s sixth mass extinction, perhaps we require to consider just
precisely what human life is worth.
Towards Legal Rights for Animals
The legal rights of nonhuman animals might first be achieved in any of the ways.
Most concur that the least likely will be through the re-interpretation or
amendment of state or federal constitutions, or through international
treaties. In general, most believe that gaining personhood is much more
probable through legislative enactment than through a constitutional change. But
a vicissitude in the prevalent law may be the most likely of all. while in the
process of deciding cases.
Unlike legislators, judges are at least formally bound to do equity. Opportunely
interpreted, the common law is devoted to being flexible, adaptable to
transmutations in public morality, and sensitive to incipient scientific
revelations. Among its chief values are liberty and equipollence. These favor
prevalent law personhood, as a matter of liberty.
Legal Inculcation in Animal Law
It is indicated that animal rights lawyer should not expect a judge to
appreciate the merits of arguments in favor of the legal personhood of any
nonhuman animal the first time, or the fifth time, he or she encounters them.
While a sympathetic judge might be found here and there, no appellate bench will
seize the lead until the issue has been exhaustively aired in law journals,
books, and conferences. Law reviews discussing animal legal rights must be
established around the country in order to provide a paramount scholarly forum
in which the germane legal issues can be explored.
Legal conferences must be organized, law school courses devoted to edifying
students on animal law issues must be established, animal rights lawyers and law
edifiers must reach out to acquaint the vocation with the paramountcy of their
work and the puissance of their arguments. The same quandary subsists for
the millions of nonhuman animals coerced to be subjects of biomedical research.
Conclusion And Suggestions
Animals have always composed and will always form a central feature of the human
world. Deference for the dignity of all animals lives needs to underlie
consideration of how human beings interact with other animals. The trend that is
pellucid from the study is that in the last few years, animal activism has
gained momentum in India due to the efforts of animal activists and the
judiciary. Pro-animal Bills are under consideration to raise the penal
provisions in cases of animal abuse. Nationwide campaigns are being held to
augment cognizance on the rights of animals.
As a result, the Courts have been reiterating the rights of animals and birds.
The key affirmative advances in this regard in the country are boost in the
number of protected areas under the Wildlife Protection Act,1972 ; veto on
capture of dolphins; establishment of Cow Department in Rajasthan; declaration
of River Dolphin as City Animal of Guwahati ; scheme for animal adoption in
Haryana; incipient course on Animal Welfare in Jawahar Lal Nehru University ;
preclusion & regulation of avail of animals during Veterinary Edification etc..
Infelicitously, the law of 1960 on preventing cruelty against animals has not
been amended even once in the last fifty years. The presence of numerous
impotent and ineffective legislative provisions in favour of animals is
perpetually leading to infringement of their rights in disparate forms. It is
fascinating to note that the ways in which the lives of animals are compromised
can be often optically discerned, much abuse goes unnoticed.
The negative trends can be observed as the integration of endangered Species in
IUCN Red List; two anti-animal notifications issued by MoEFCC; deaths of
companion animals; the liberal posture of judiciary etc. There certainly
subsists a gap between legislative policies and the practical situation as far
as the rights of animals are concerned. Furthermore, it becomes pellucid that
the general acceptance of the rights of animals is still not prevalent in India.
A paradigm shift in human consciousness is needed and it s time to realize that
the interaction of human beings and animals is as much a component of evolution
and as worthy of study as the extinction of the dinosaurs or the comportment of
Though the law has a consequential role to play in bulwarking animals from
exploitation and cruelty, people cannot be made by law more humanitarian. In the
light of the above discussions and conclusions, the following suggestions are
being made to address deteriorating state of animal rights in India-
- Future studies should investigate the factors responsible for
encroachment by men over nature.
- A comprehensive law should come into force. The legal regime to forfend
them needs to be more proactive. It would be an achievement for the animal
rights activists and organizations if both of Animal Welfare Bills get
clearance by the Parliament. The Bill in Parliament for incrementing
penalties for breach of animal abuse must be passed as soon as possible.
Regarding the abandonment of pet animals, more rigorous legal penalties must
subsist. The scheme of marking the animals so as to trace the owner as
introduced for sundry animals must be efficaciously elongated to all. The
recommendations of the Law Commission of India vide its Report No. 261
submitted in August 2015 additionally deserve immediate attention by the
- The enforcement mechanism must be made more vigorous in India. The
enactment of the law to avert cruelty to the animals is not a terminus in
itself. What is more consequential is the implementation of sundry animal
aegis statutes and to optically discern to it that the activities which are
proscribed under them do not take place in the State & in case of
infringement of the provisions of, to take stringent action against the
This underlines the essentiality to acknowledge each individual animal s
intrinsic value, and the fact that every single animal is worthy of deference
and care, deserves to live a life that is consequential without dispensable
human exploitation or interference. The point is to spread vigilance that animal
rights violation is an issue, an earnest issue worthy of public discourse.
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- Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu, and bullock cart races in Maharashtra,
Karnataka, Punjab, Kerala, etc are events which charter use of animals as
performing animals. Furthermore, animals sacrifice takes place during Bijaya
Yatra of the annual Chhattar festival at Bhawanipatna in Kalahandi district
in Orissa; animal sacrifice was prevalent before September 2014 in various
parts of Himachal Pradesh - Chamunda Devi temple in Kangra, Hadimba Devi
temple in Manali, etc.
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para 42 (Supreme Court of India 2013).
- Centre for Environment Law, WWF-I v. Union of India & Others, 8 SCC 234
para 63 (Supreme Court of India 2013).
- Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) v. A. Nagaraja and Ors, 7 SCC 547
(Supreme Court of India 2014).
- Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) v. A. Nagaraja and Ors, 7 SCC 547
para 77 (Supreme Court of India 2014).
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