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Animal Cruelty And Laws for Protection of Animal Rights

The idea of Humanity is no longer confined to man; it is beginning to extend itself to the lower animals, as in the past it has been gradually extended to savages and slaves - Henry S. Salt.

One must have seen people shooting birds, hurting stray dogs and leaving harmless and innocent animals to famishment and demise or seen organizations wrongfully testing their products on animals, animals being abused in zoos, circus or parks for amusement and thought about whether there is an end to this merciless routine. Recurring attacks on animals in an inhumane way only proves the fact that the already difficult to define term humanity seems very difficult to follow as well.

A nationwide atrocity was caused after a pregnant elephant in Kerala died as a result of consuming a fruit-laden with explosive. As per the autopsy, the animal suffered for two weeks before succumbing to death while being pregnant and even in such a state of misery she did not harm or damage any property or attacked any person. It has been referred to as a premeditated murder by some, but for many, it is just a common practice to protect their fields against wild animals, especially boars.

The issue is not whether this alleged incident was a murder or an accident:
it is much greater and serious than that. The question is whether these kinds of practices are lawful under Indian law. This is not the first time animals have been treated with cruelty in India; just a day before the Kerala incident, the jaw of a pregnant cow was severely hurt after being fed dough stuffed with firecrackers in Himachal Pradesh. These incidents clearly show the difference between Animals and Humans.

We, the humans are the Homo-sapiens classified as the highest ranking in the animal kingdom living in the era of development who have grown in various fields and certainly we have achieved a lot but at what cost? Is it even an achievement for human kind if we have lost basic moral values? Have the advancements weakened the roots of humans with nature?  These questions hint to the gaps in our society which are obstructing the overall growth of our country and which should be taken in account.

One of the unrecognized topics in today's scenario is Animal Rights. India has a judicious collection of wildlife security laws that, with specific modifications can change the condition of how wildlife is treated in the country.

Bestiality: A heinous crime

Amongst various cruelties against animals, the heinous crime of bestiality is increasing at an alarming rate. Under Section 377 of Indian Penal Code, whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.

The Supreme Court delivered a remarkable verdict and decriminalized homosexuality. However, the section that criminalized homosexuality has an important aspect of it. Bestiality refers to sexual intercourse between a person and an animal and it is a crime under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. The apex court had upheld that the law will stand on the statute book to deal with unnatural sexual offences against animals such as bestiality. However, most people including the police are unaware or ignorant about this.

There have been many instances of bestiality over the years.  In August 2017, a man was accused of raping a female puppy to death in Delhi. Not only did the accused, Naresh Kumar boast about the incident to an animal lover, he also led him to the carcass. On July 26, 2018, a pregnant goat was reportedly gang-raped by eight men in Haryana. It was allegedly stolen, thrashed and raped by the accused.

It succumbed to the trauma and died. Reportedly, one of the accused met the owner of the goat and admitted that he had raped her and even said that he had a nice time.  Recently, in July 2020, a cow was allegedly raped by a 55 year old man in Bhopal. While these cases of extreme brutality are on the rise, there is an acute dearth of laws to shield animals from cases of sexual abuse � giving the immoral and psychopaths the conviction to escape from the law.

Right from initial stage there is indifference in filing FIRs. Even if the FIR is filed the question of what section of the Indian Penal Code should it be filed under arises. While the Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act, 1960 deals with the cognizance of prospects of treating animals cruelly, including maiming, injuring, killing, practicing phooka, experiments on animals, restricting exhibition and training of performing animals, human parody seems to be rising outside its present purview.

The punishment under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 is a fine of Rs 50 or imprisonment of up to three months or both. Section 377 does not address the extreme cruelty meted out against the animals, but only criminalizes the penetrative sexual intercourse with an animal. The animal rights body has urged the government to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and introduce stronger penalties for cruelty to animals and make bestiality a cognizable offence.

However, the government has maintained silence on it. Looking at the current scenario, we should contemplate tying up humans rather than animals, if they cannot control their urge to rape and continue their immoral acts. The animals cannot speak up for their rights thus people should fight for safeguarding their rights and protect them from cruelty.

Animal protection rights and laws:

The founders of the Indian Constitution were also sensitive to the topic of animal interests and their protection which is evident from the Article 51(A) G of the Indian Constitution which reads as:
It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.

In Concurrent List III, it is given that both the Centre and the State have the force and power to:
Prevent inhumane attitude towards animals & ensure the safety of wild animals and birds. The traces of animal rights can also be seen in Criminal Procedure Code of India as killing, maiming, poisoning or rendering useless of any animal is punishable under Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Under Section 503 of the Indian Penal Code any individual scaring someone else and averting him/her, who is the proprietor of a pet, from keeping or dealing with his/her pet can be held at risk.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 was enacted to prevent the act of unnecessary agony enduring on animals and for that purpose to amend the law relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals. The Act defines the word animal as any living creature other than a human being.  The Animal Welfare Board of India under Section 4 of the act is set to guard animals from being exposed to excessive torment.

Section 11 of the Act mentions the condition under which a demonstration is perceived to be brutality against animals. The arrangement expresses that slaughtering any animal in any pointlessly savage way is a culpable offence. The discipline for the said offense, on account of a first offense, is fine which is between ten rupees to fifty rupees and on account of a second or consequent offense with fine which is between twenty-five rupees to one hundred rupees and a maximum of three months of imprisonment on repetition of the said acts.

Section 11 (o) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act states the punishment of any person who promotes or himself takes part in any shooting match/competition where animals are released from captivity for shooting. Laws relating to pets and their punishments are also found under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 includes the provisions for protection of wild animals, birds, aquatic animals and zoo animals. Section 48A of the Act rejects transportation of any wild animal or birds aside from with the authorization of the Chief Wildlife Warden or some other authority permitted by the State Government. Section 49 of the Act forbids the purchase without license of wild animals from dealers.

Section 38A of the Act accommodates basis of a Central Zoo Authority by the Central Government, which has the accompanying capacities of indicating the base norms for keeping of animals inside the zoo, perceive or derecognize zoos, perceive jeopardized species and relegate duties to zoos for their hostage rearing, and so forth.  Section 16 (c) of the Wildlife Protection Act, states the punishment for injuring or destroying wild birds, reptiles, etc. or damaging or disturbing their eggs or nests.

Use of animals for experimentation and research in the cosmetic industry amounts to grave cruelty. Through the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (Second Amendment) 2014, animal testing for cosmetic items was banned all over India. Any person who breaches the Act is liable for punishment for a term which may extend from 3 to 10 years or shall be liable to a fine which could be Rs.500 to Rs.10, 000, or both. As per Rule 135B of the Drugs and Cosmetic (Fifth Amendment) Rules 2014, no cosmetic that has been tried on animals shall be imported into the country.

The Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals released the Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1998 (amended in 2001 and 2006) that control the experimentation on animals. Dissecting and experimenting on animals in schools and colleges is banned in India, under the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act.

Judiciary's attitude and approach:

The judgments given by the Hon'ble Courts over a decade in the field of animal protection show the scope, emergence & importance of environmental law in the current scenario. The judiciary has also raised the issue of the lack of role of the legislature in contributing in the enactment of new rules and regulations and modification in the current scenario is a matter of concern.

In Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja & Ors the Supreme Court held that animals too have the right to live with honour and dignity. Karnail Singh and Ors. vs. State of Haryana is revolutionary judgment in which the judiciary took the matter of animal rights in the extent of Fundamental Rights.

The judgment goes beyond the question of the wellbeing of cows as focused in the case but also talks about all animals, birds and aquatic species as well.  Justice Rajiv Sharma mentions in his judgment The entire animal kingdom including avian and aquatic are declared as legal entities having a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person. All the citizens throughout the State of Haryana are hereby declared persons in loco parentis as the human face for the welfare/protection of animals.

The doctrine of parens patriae which states the duty of the state to provide protection for those who are unable to protect themselves which was earlier limited to humans,  has now also included non-humans in the range of this doctrine.

Every country is conducting research to make vaccine in the current scenario of global pandemic of COVID-19 so the experiments and trials of the same are conducted on animals. They go through a lot of suffering and after experiencing agony almost all of them are killed. Animal testing through the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (Second Amendment) 2014, for cosmetic products was banned all over India.

However, this topic needs additional attention in the current scenario and there has not been enough contribution in this matter by the legislation or judiciary.

All the judgments given by the Hon'ble Courts are good steps taken towards the non-human rights. The arguments presented in the judgment support animals and declare legal rights and protection to them. A strong start to support animal rights can be seen in the liberal judgments given recently.

However, despite there being very elaborate and detailed animal protection laws in India; they are not properly executed.  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 anti-cruelty parts in Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act can be made effective by increasing the punishment and fine to some extent.

For real change, there needs to be a change in the minds of people, who rather than abusing animals, should start respecting them and begin treating them better. It is possible only through stringent rules, legislations and penalties that such acts of violence towards animals can come to an end. The alarming rise of such instances of barbaric animal cruelty and inhuman exploitation in the pet industry makes it not only our legal duty but also a moral obligation to respect, protect and prevent brutality towards any being.

  • Animal Welfare Board of India vs. A. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547[1]
  • Karnail Singh and Ors. vs. State of Haryana, CRR-533-2013
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
  • Indian Penal Code,1860
  • Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 2014
  • Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1998

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