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Animal Rights in India: A critical Analysis

Before dealing with Animal rights, let us acknowledge what we mean by the term rights.

Right can be defined and has been defined by many political philosophers and theorists in several ways so there is no specific way to define rights as such. However, Rights, in their abstract sense, are something that is morally correct and is legally owed to the individual. Now let us understand what we mean by the term animal. Section 2(1) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 defines an animal as: amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles, and they're young, and also includes the eggs of birds and reptiles and Section 2(a) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 gives a comparatively broader definition of the animals by stating that:
any living creature other than a human being. Thus, animal rights is basically the idea which suggests that the non-human living beings are provided with the basic necessities required for their existence and that enough protection is being provided to these animals in order to prevent sufferings of any kind.

However, this should not be confused with Animal conservation, a practice for protecting wildlife species and their habitats. The fact whether animals have rights in India or not has been a very debatable topic. However, there are few statues related to animal rights in both, international and national level.

This includes The Wildlife Protection Act,1972, Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960, The Animal Welfare Act,1966, The Preventing Animal Cruely and Torture Act [PACT],2019. Out of all of these, The Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals Act, 1960 is the most significant statute dealing with cruelty towards animals in India. The PCA was enacted with the aim to prevent infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals. Considering the fact that PCA is the main provision dealing with cruelty towards animals in India, we have to understand why and how it is ineffective.

The laws relating to animal cruelty are so non-authoritative that the society does not even take it seriously anymore. As per the section 11 of the Prevention of cruelty towards animal act, the offender shall be liable to pay a maximum fine of Rs.50.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA], India released a 73 pages long report along with a video footage about the infamous bull taming festival of Jallikattu where a bull of a certain breed is released in a crowd of people and the participants have to stop the bull from escaping. There have been cases of deaths and injury of both the participants and the bulls which led to a lot of protests and a series of legal battles to ban the sport.(PETA Jallikattu investigation,2017) A report given out by PETA implies that the animal abusers do not just stop there, they move on to kill human beings as well.

(PETA report-Animal Abuse and human abuse: Partners in crime. ) This is evident in the case of the infamous serial killer, Veerappan, who killed more than 120 people and was responsible for the poaching of more than 2000 elephants. According to a report given out by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, If somebody is harming an animal, there is a good chance that they are also hurting a human.(John Thompson, deputy executive director of the National Sheriffs’

 Association,2016). It is now clear that amendments to acts relating to cruelty to animals are the need of the hour. Amendment bills to replace the current PCA act have been introduced in 2011(Animal Welfare Act,2011), in 2014 (Animal welfare bill,2014) and in 2016( Prevention cruelty to Animals Amendment bill,2016). Unfortunately, none of these have been passed in the parliament.

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