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HC holds Animals to be protected under Article 21, 51A(g) And 51A(h)

Humanity's true moral test, its fundamental test consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals said humanist & writer Milan Kundera. Noted Physicist & thinker Albert Einstein said that if a man aspires towards a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals. US president Abraham Lincoln said that �I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.�

Compassion towards Animals is deep rooted in our culture & moral values. Cruelty to animals has been considered akin to Cruelty towards fellow beings. But, it is true that incidents of Animal Cruelty are rampant in our country. Physical violence, emotional abuse and life-threatening neglect are daily realities for many animals in the whole world. The Karnataka High Court recently on February 9, 2021 in the case of Compassion Unlimited Plus Action NGO vs State of Karnataka and another in Criminal Petition 5344/2020 had an occasion to address this important question.

It would be relevant to refer to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 which was enacted to contain cruelty to animals. It would be apposite to refer to the case of State of Uttar Pradesh vs Mustakeem (Crl.A.Nos.283- 87/2002) vide dated 22.02.2002 has observed shock over animals being transported for being slaughtered tied very tightly to each other resulting in pain & agony to the meek & dumb animals and directed that these animals be kept in the Goshala under the supervision & care of the State Government.

It would be trite to refer to Article 51A(g) & 51A(h) of the Constitution of India which confers a constitutional duty on all citizens and the State to have compassion for living creatures and for protection and improvement of wild life.

The said Article is being reproduced as under:
Article 51A(g) in The Constitution Of India 1949
(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;"
(h) It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform. It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.

Article 21 in The Constitution Of India 1949 deals with the right to life & liberty and is reproduced as under:
21. Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law

It is relevant to refer to Section 11 of the PCA Act, which deals with the offences of treating animals cruelly, reads as follows:
11. Treating animals cruelly.:
  1. If any person:
    1. 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; or
    2. employs in any work or labour or for any purpose any animal which, by reason of its age or any disease, infirmity, wound, sore or other cause, is unfit to be so employed or, being the owner, permits any such unfit animal to be employed; or
    3. 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; or
    4. conveys or carries, whether in or upon any vehicle or not, any animal in such a manner or position as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering; or
    5. keeps or confines any animal in any cage or other receptacle which does not measure sufficiently in height, length and breadth to permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for movement; or
    6. keeps for an unreasonable time any animal chained or tethered upon an unreasonably short or unreasonably heavy chain or cord; or
    7. being the owner, neglects to exercise or cause to be exercised reasonably any dog habitually chained up or kept in close confinement; or
    8. being the owner of any animal, fails to provide such animal with sufficient food, drink or shelter; or
    9. without reasonable cause, abandons any animal in circumstances which tender it likely that it will suffer pain by reason of starvation thirst; or
    10. wilfully permits any animal, of which he is the owner, to go at large in any street, while the animal is affected with 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; or
    11. offers for sale or, withoutp reasonable cause, has in his possession any animal which is suffering pain by reason of mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or other ill- treatment; or
    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 or;
    13. solely with a view to providing entertainment:
      1. confines or causes to be confined any animal (including tying of an animal as a bait in a tiger or other sanctuary) so as to make it an object or prey for any other animal; or
      2. incites any animal to fight or bait any other animal; or 

    14. organises, keeps, uses or acts in the management or, 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; or
    15. promotes or takes part in any shooting match or competition wherein animals are released from captivity for the purpose of such shooting;
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.

(2) For the purposes of sub-section (1), an owner shall be deemed to have committed an offence if he has failed to exercise reasonable care and supervision with a view to the prevention of such offence:
Provided that where an owner is convicted permitting cruelty by reason only of having failed to exercise such care and supervision, he shall not be liable to imprisonment without the option of a fine.

The Karnataka High Court in clear terms after going through the PCA held thus:
"it is clear that the very object and wisdom of legislature have to be taken note of and also the expanding of the definition and scope of Article 51-A(g) and (h) and also Article 21 of the Constitution of India, which says environment which includes, all forms of life, including animal life, which are necessary for human life, fall within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

It is observed that animals� well-being and welfare have been statutorily recognized under Section 3 and Section 11 of the PCA Act and the rights framed under the Act. Right to live in a healthy and clean atmosphere and right to get protection from human beings against inflicting unnecessary pain or suffering is a right guaranteed to the animals under Section 3 and Section 11 of the PCA Act read with Article 51- A(g) and (h) of the Constitution of India."

With the authoritative pronouncement in the aforesaid case of the Karnataka High Court fortified by the provisions of the PCA Act and Article 21 & Article 51- A(g) and (h) of the Constitution of India, it is no longer Res Integra that Animals are to be protected and treated with humanism and not subjected to any form of cruelty.

Written By: Inder Chand Jain
Ph no: 8279945021, Email: [email protected]

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