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Strict Law to Prevent Animal Cruelty: The Need of an Hour

Mahatma Gandhi said: The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. I hold that the more helpless a creature the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of humankind.

India as a whole is undoubtedly stepping forward in the fields of job growth, economic growth of poor, international relations, climate change etc., but there exists a big loophole in our legislation - Animal Cruelty Prevention law. In 1960, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was legislated but since then it has not even once been amended instead of continuous rising in animal cruelty cases and on the other hand, the act of 1960 has not also been effectively implemented.

Since the Ancient time, animals are not only treated as integral part of our society but they are worshiped in India. According to Hindu Mythology, Cow, tiger, lion, snake, horse elephant, monkey are worshiped. But on the other hand, animals are being subjected to cruelty for numerous reasons such as, for meeting with the hunger of non-vegetarian people, for experiments being conducted on them in the labs, for entertainment purposes in the circus and for sacrifice purposes to show the devotion etc.

Cruelty to animals in India

Cruelty to animals means animal abuse that is knowingly inflicted upon animals by human beings for any gain.

Even after the enforcement of PCA 1960, there have been an horrific rise in the cases of animal cruelty. Recent cases of animal cruelty includes killing of a pregnant elephant from Kerala, a pregnant cow from Himachal Pradesh and a jackal from Tamil Nadu. In all these incidents, the animals were fed some explosives with some edibles. Another incident of animal cruelty is the death of Shaktiman the police horse in March 2016.

One of the most renowned case of animal cruelty is Jallikattu event that is being organised in Tamil Nadu. During jallikattu, participants mentally and physically torture bulls and endanger the lives of animals and humans.

There are several laws enforced in India to curb the menace of cruelty against animals for the safety, protection and punishment in cases of animal cruelty such as Article 48A and 51A(g) of the Constitution of India, Section 428 and 429 of Indian Penal Code but most important laws are Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) 1960 and Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Under Section 11 of PCA act, different forms of cruelty has been defined which are as follows:

  1. Beating, Kicking, Over-riding, Over-driving, Over-loading, Torturing, Causing unnecessary pain or suffering to any animals;
  2. Employing any animal which, by reason of its age or any disease, unfit to be so employed, and still making it work or labour or for any purpose;
  3. Willfully and unreasonably administering any injurious drug or injurious substance;
  4. Conveying or carrying, either in or upon any vehicle in such a manner as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering;
  5. Keeping or confining any animal in any cage or any receptacle, which does not measure sufficiently in height, length and breadth to permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for movement;
  6. Keeping for an unreasonable time any animal chained or tethered upon an unreasonably heavy chain or chord;
  7. Being the owner, neglects to exercise or cause to be exercised reasonably any dog habitually chained up or kept in close confinement;
  8. Being the owner of any animal fails to provide such animal with sufficient food, drink or shelter;
  9. Being the owner, without reasonable cause, abandons any animal in circumstances, which render it likely that it will suffer pain by reason of starvation or thirst;
  10. Willfully permits any animal, of which he is the owner to go at large in any street while the animal is affected with a contagious or infectious disease, or without reasonable excuse permits any diseased or disabled animal, of which he is the owner, to die in any street;
  11. Offers for sale or without reasonable cause, has in his possession any animal which is suffering pain by reason of mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or other ill-treatment
  12. Mutilates any animal or kills any animal (including stray dogs) by using the method of strychnine injections in the heart or in any other unnecessarily cruel manner;
  13. Solely with a view to providing entertainment:
    1. Confines or causes to be confined any animals (including tying of an animal as bait in a tiger or other sanctuary) so as to make it an object of prey for any other animal;
    2. Incites any animal to fight or bait any other animal.
  14. Organizes, keeps, uses or acts in the management of any place for animal fighting or for the purpose of baiting any animal or permits or offers any place to be so used or receives money for the admission of any other person to any place kept or used for any such purposes;
  15. takes part in any shooting match or competition wherein animals are released from captivity for the purpose of such shooting.
If any person commits any of the acts mentioned from (a) to (o), he shall be punishable in the case of a first offence, with fine which shall not be less than ten rupees but which may extend to fifty rupees, and in the case of a second or subsequent offence committed within three years of the previous offence, with fine which shall not be less than twenty-five rupees but which may extend to one hundred rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with both.

The Wildlife Protection Act 1972 is meant for the protection of wild animals and birds, and there are provisions that safeguard the interests of the animals.
  • It prohibits the sacrifice of animals, by Section 39 of the act there is a strict prohibition on any injury to the animals and the penalty is mentioned in section 51 of the act.
  • There is also a ban on keeping any Indian bird under the act. If anybody wishes to keep a permissible bird he has to comply strictly with Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1956.
  • Police powers: Section 50 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 authorizes a police officer to arrest any person without a warrant.
  • Monkeys cannot be displayed or owned, and are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act as well.
The major loophole which needs an immediate action is that the amount of fine or compensation that is imposed on any offence under PCA Act is very low. The amount of fine that ranges between Rs. 10 and Rs. 50 can not prevent the cruelty towards animals.

Section 11 and 12 of the Act are cognizable but the sentence of imprisonment is very low that is imprisonment of 3 months and punishment under Section 38 of the Act is non-cognizable which means person cannot be arrested without warrant. Also, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1956, there is a provision for the requirement of setting up of a Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in every state but leaving a few states there is no such society in the rest of the country.

The Jallikattu Case

The Supreme Court India in 2014 held jallikattu as cruelty to bulls and banned the same, however, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act of 2017 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017 opened the gates for running the popular bull-taming sport in the name of tradition.

The Supreme Court in 2014, in a case titled - Animal Welfare Board of India v. Nagraja & Ors., recognized the Right to Life as enshrined under Article 21 of the COI, to extend to animals as well.

However, PETA India conducted eyewitness investigations from 15 to 19 January 2020 at seven jallikattu events organised in the state of Tamil Nadu, exposing more evidence of rampant cruelty to animals. Bloodshed, bullying, and burials have kicked off 2020�s jallikattu season. While the injuries and deaths that jallikattu causes are not always reported by the media, just in January and February of this year alone, at least 13 humans and six bulls reportedly died during jallikattu events and 570 humans sustained injuries. At some jallikattu events, panicked bulls fled onto the surrounding streets, injuring onlookers and even goring some to death. Bulls Won't Be Safe Until Jallikattu Is Banned Again.

The Uttar Pradesh government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, took a step by approving draft of the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Cow Slaughter Prevention (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, to protect cows and prevent their slaughter, providing a maximum rigorous imprisonment of 10 years and a fine up to Rs 5 lakh. Now this ordinance calls for similar and more robust and effective measures to be taken by the Centre in Toto.

Judiciary can play a very important role in preventing animal cruelty by imposing the stricter punishments under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 then the people will take care and will not ruthlessly kill innocent animals. In 2011, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was amended and renamed as Indian Animal Welfare Act as a need was felt to change the old law.

We as vigilant citizen should make the children of our society aware about the innocence of animals and should educate them to treat animals with kindness. Food and shelter should be provided to street dogs by government shelters, and registered firms and NGOs to assure their safety.

Another effort should be improve the system by establishing and strengthening the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animal, an NGO that can work in every state separately with no interference of the state.

Written By: Neha Kumawat

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