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Protection of Strays under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960

Whether it be the people mercilessly hurting stray animals, unethical use of animals by breeders, or abuse towards animals in the name of festivals, animal cruelty makes headlines around the world on a daily basis. These cases of Cruelty cannot be overlooked as it has proven to have severe implications ranging from the fact that it is linked to other crimes, to the factual truth that these practises inflict great pain on these animals that have nobody to speak for them.

In India, right from the start the notion of wildlife and animal protection was embedded in the Constitution of India. The protection of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 was made in the very effort of protection and safeguarding the rights of animals in the country such that a safe haven for their existence could be provided. Cruelty towards animals in today's time should not be neglected as it also demonstrates links to other crimes as well as the general state of society in a country.

Combating the menace of animal cruelty therefore, falls upon the hands of not only NGOs but also the Governments and citizens of a country where even culture plays a significant role. Major Sections under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 have been examined in this review.

Animal cruelty is defined as the crime involving the infliction of pain, suffering, or death to an animal. Animal neglect can include withholding of food and water and shelter and that as a result the animal has in any way suffered, died, or been placed in imminent danger of death. In summary, animal cruelty is defined as any intentional and repeated behaviour that causes physical or psychological distress in animals, including, but not limited to, causing unnecessary pain, suffering, distress, or death of an animal.

Animal cruelty cases in India and around the world remain on the rise but the reasoning for this increasing cruelty towards animals remains a mystery. Animals are subjected to unnecessary hurt by people who believe that they can do anything to animals on account of them being mute.

Throughout the world animals are killed, mutilated, and subjected to all kinds of cruelty and brutality by humans for mere pleasure and amusement. To this day animal cruelty remains highly prevalent in India. Even though animals are worshipped and revered in our country one cannot deny the history of abuse towards animals from the Indian society.

Reports show that on an average at least one animal is abused every minute while over 100 million animals face mutilation every year. Animals are subjected to stone pelting, kicking, rapes, murder, poisoning and a number of unimaginable and heinous means of torture on a regular basis but the laws pertaining to the benefit of these animals see little to no change.

Despite the existence of laws, the crimes against animals does not show any signs of reducing and has rather increased in the past decade. Stringent measures are the need of the hour, when the question of protection of animals is asked. Timely changes to animal protection laws is the major task at hands of the government which at present look to be the only valid deterrent to cruelty against animals in the country.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960:

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, was passed by the parliament and received the president's assent on 26th December 1960. The sole purpose behind the enactment of this act was to prevent the infliction of pain or suffering on animals and for that purpose to amend the law relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals.

The act provides for the establishment of an Animal Welfare Board for further protection of animals along with providing protection to them. The act also identifies various types of cruelty inflicted upon animals and the penalties that come from them.

Even though the laws exist the penalties imposed upon people who abuse animals is extremely low and under the current circumstances can not act as deterrents to animal cruelty. It is therefore fair to say that the penalties imposed by the outdated laws in the PCA Act, 1960 are not strict enough to stop people from subjecting unnecessary torture and abuse upon animals. The laws fail to completely deter animal cruelty and give leeway to abusers making getting away with crimes against animals extremely easy.

Main Objective of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960:

  1. Protection of animals against unnecessary cruelty and abuse.
  2. Provides for punishment for people who subject animals to undue pain and torture.
  3. Defines animals while also differentiating between captive and domestic animals.
  4. The Act enshrines provisions for establishing the Animal Welfare Board of India, its powers, functions, constitution, and term of the office of members of the Board.
  5. Defines various forms of cruelty towards animals and the punishment prescribed for the cruelty inflicted.
  6. The Act provides for exceptions and killing of suffering animals, in case any cruelty has been committed on them, so as to relieve them from the pain.
  7. It provides for guidelines in relation to ethical experimentation upon animals for scientific purposes.
  8. Enshrines for provisions relating to exhibitions of performing animals and provides for punishment on any cruelty committed against such animals in the name of performance.
  9. The Act also provides for a 3-month period beyond which there shall be no prosecution will lie for any offender under the Act.

Major Sections under the Prevention of Cruelty on Animals Act, 1960:

  • Section 2
    • This section of the PCA Act provides for various definitions that are required to understand and comprehend the Act in its entirety.
    • It provides us with the legal definition for animals, captive animals and domestic animals which is important for segregation in different cases of cruelty.
    • It also defines what a Board and Local Authority is for better comprehension of the terms in the Act and make it easier for readers to apply the Act correctly.
  • Section 3:
    • This section of the Act imposes the duty of care on every person owning an animal.
    • Imposes the duty to take reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of animals.
    • Prevent the infliction of any unnecessary pain or suffering upon such animals.

      Animal Welfare Board of India: Establishment, Constitution and Functions
  • Section 4:
    • Section 4 of the Act enshrines the provisions for the establishment of an Animal Welfare Board of India.
    • The board will work for the general promotion of animal welfare in the country and protection of animals against abuse.
    • The board shall be established by the central Government.
    • The Board shall be a body corporate having perpetual succession and a common seal with power, subject to the provisions of this Act.
  • Section 5:
    Section 5 of the Act provides to us the members of the Animal Welfare Board of India.

    The Board is constituted by:
    1. The Inspector-General of Forests to the Government of India, ex officio
    2. The Animal Husbandry Officer to the Government of India, ex-officio;
    3. Two persons whose appointment shall be made by the Central Government for representing the Union Ministers dealing with Home Affairs and Education;
    4. One person who shall be appointed by the Union Government as a representative of the Indian Board for Wild Life;
    5. Three persons are to be appointed by the Union Government if it opines that such persons are presently or in the past been actively engaged in animal welfare or are well-known humanitarians.
    6. One person to be appointed as a representative of any association of veterinary practitioners;
    7. One person as a representative of each of 2 municipal corporations;
    8. One person to represent each of such three animal welfare organizations;
    9. One person as a representative of each of such 3 societies dealing with prevention of cruelty to animals;
    10. Three persons nominated by the Central Government;
    11. Six Parliamentary members, out of which four from the Lok Sabha and two from the Rajya Sabha;
    12. All the persons mentioned above can depute another person for attending the board meetings as their representative;
    13. The Union Government shall nominate one of the board members to be its Chairman and another to be its Vice-chairman.
  • Section 9:
    The functions of the Board enshrined by Section 9 of this Act are:
    • Supervising laws relating to animal cruelty and its prevention as well as advising the government in making any amendments relating to such laws.
    • Advising the Central Government on enactments of rules and regulations under this act for the prevention of unnecessary pain and suffering of animals, especially during their transportation from one place to another or during their use as performing animals or during their captivity or confinement.
    • Advising the Government or local authorities or any other person on improvements that can be made to vehicle designs to reduce the burden on draught animals.
    • Adopting steps for improving the living condition of animals by providing for shelters, water troughs etc along with veterinary treatments.
    • Advising the Government or any local authority or other person in the design of slaughter-houses or in the maintenance of slaughter-houses or in connection with slaughter of animals so that unnecessary pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is eliminated in the pre-slaughter stages.
    • To provide for help with financial assistance to any shelter, rescue home, sanctuary or otherwise where animals and birds might find shelter.
    • To impart education in relation to the humane treatment of animals and to encourage the formation of public opinion against the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to animals and for the promotion of animal welfare by means of lectures, books, posters, cinematographic exhibitions and the like.
  • Section 11:
    Section 11 of the PCA Act provides us with information regarding the various kinds of cruelty that animals face and what acts of man are to be considered cruel:
    • Beats, kicks, runs over, drives over, loads over, tortures or otherwise treats any animal by causing unnecessary pain or suffering or causes or being the owner permits, any animal for such employment.
    • Employs any animal in work or labour which due to any disease, infirmity, wound, sore or other cause, is unfit for such employment or, being the owner lets any such unfit animal be so employed.
    • Causes wilful administration of any injurious drug or substance to and domestic or captive animal.
    • Conveys or carries any animal in such a manner that it may cause or inflict unnecessary pain.
    • Cages or confines any animal or other receptacle having insufficient growth in height, length and breadth for permitting the animal a reasonable opportunity to move around.
    • Keeps an animal chained or tethered for unreasonably long duration of time with an unreasonably short or long chain.
    • Being the owner fails to properly provide for the animal with proper food, shelter and water.
    • Abandoning any animal in such situations causing it to suffer pain by reason of starvation or thirst, without any reason.
    • Offering for sale or possession of any animal which is suffering due to starvation, thirst, mutilation, or any other ill treatment.
    • Needlessly mutilates any animal or kills any animal by unnecessary cruelty.
    • Confining any animal in such a way so as to make it an object of prey for any other animal solely for entertainment purposes.

      This section provides for a punishment on any of the offences mentioned above a fine of Rs.10 which may extend to Rs.50 in case of the first offence and a fine no less than Rs.25 which may extend to Rs.100 in case of a subsequent second offence within three years from the first along with imprisonment up to 3 months or both.
  • Section 13:
    Section 13 of the Act deals with provisions relating to killing of suffering animals so as to relieve them from further pain and suffering.
    1. When the owner of an animal is convicted under section 11 of this act and the court is satisfied that keeping such an animal alive would inflict more pain upon it than keeping it alive, the court shall appoint a person and direct the killing of the animal. Order for such execution can only be passed by the owner's consent or based on the evidence of a veterinary officer in the area.
    2. When any magistrate, commissioner of police/district superintendent of police reasonably believes that an offence under Section 11 has been committed, he may direct the immediate destruction of such an animal, if he opines that it would be cruel to keep the animal alive.
    3. Any police officer above the rank of constable upon finding an animal that is severely injured or in such state that it would cause pain to the animal if it is moved shall consult a veterinary officer. If the veterinary officer opines that the animal has a mortal injury and it would be cruel to keep it alive then the police officer may obtain a magisterial order for the destruction of the animal.
    4. Magisterial order for destruction of animals shall be non-appealable.

Rules for Experimentation on Animals

  • Section 14:
    • Section 14 of the PCA Act talks about the rules for experimentation on animals for scientific purposes.
    • No acts of experimentation shall be rendered unlawful if the experiments are done for the purpose of:
      1. advancement by new discovery of physiological knowledge
      2. knowledge which will be useful for saving or for prolonging life or alleviating suffering or for combating any disease.
      3. whether of human beings, animals or plants.
  • Section 15:
    Upon the advice of the Board, the Central Government may constitute a committee for the purpose of controlling and supervising the experiments on animals, by notifying in the Official Gazette.
    • The Central Government one of the members of the committee to be its chairman.
    • The committee shall have the power to regulate its own procedure in relation to the performance of its duties.
    • The funds of the Committee shall consist of grants made to it from time to time by the Government and of contributions, donations, subscriptions, bequests, gifts and the like made to it by any person.

Use of Animals for Performances

  • Section 22:
    According to this section an animal can not be exhibited or trained by a person if:
    • The person is unregistered as per the provisions of the Act
    • Such an animal has been barred from being included in any performances by the Central Government.
  • Section 23:
    Section 23 of the Act provides for the registration mechanism such that exhibition and training of animals can be done in an ethical and lawful manner.
  • Section 24:
    This section confers powers upon the courts to prohibit or restrict the exhibition or training of animals if the court is made to believe upon the complaint of a police officer in writing that the training and/or exhibition of any performing animal has been accompanied by unnecessary pain and suffering and should be allowed only subject to certain conditions of the court, then the court may make an order in respect of the person against whom the complaint has been made prohibiting training or exhibition until certain conditions are met.
  • Section 25:
    According to this section any person authorized by the prescribed authority in writing and any police officer, not below the rank of sub-inspector may:
    1. enter any premises at all times for the purpose of inspection, where any performing animals are being trained or exhibited or have been kept for such purpose, and any such animals found in there; and
    2. require any person to produce his registration certificate, who he reasonably believes to be a trainer or exhibitor of performing animals.

      No person or police officer, however, shall be entitled to go on or behind the backstage during the public performance of the performing animals.
  • Section 26:
    Section 26 provides the offences and punishment in relation to performing animals:
    • A person shall be said to have committed an offence under the provision of this chapter if:
      1. Exhibits or trains any unregistered animal for performance; or
      2. Being registered under this Act, exhibits or trains any performing animal, in respect of which he is unregistered; or
      3. Exhibits or trains a performing animal, or any animal which is not to be used for this purpose; or
      4. Causes obstruction or willful delay to any person or police officer referred under Section 25 from exercising of power for entering and inspecting, or
      5. Hides any animal to avoid the inspection; or
      6. Being a person registered under this Act fails to provide his registration certificate without reasonable cause; or
      7. Applies for registration under this Act while lacking entitlement for such registration.
    • Any person, if found guilty of an offence under this section, shall be fined for an amount up to Rs.500 or with imprisonment up to 3 months or both.
  • Section 27:
    Sections 27 provides two exemptions to the offences provided for section 26 of the Act:
    1. Nothing in this chapter applies when the training is done for bona fide military or police purposes; or
    2. any animals kept in any zoological garden or by any society or association which has for its principal object the exhibition of animals for educational or scientific purposes.

  • Section 28:
    This section provides for rules regarding the slaughter of animals for religious purposes. The provisions of this act will remain inapplicable in case of killing of animals for religious purposes.

    E.g. Goat slaughter during Kali Puja and Bakr Eid
  • Section 29:
    This section describes the powers of courts in taking away ownership of animals from persons convicted under the provisions of this act:
    • If any person is convicted under the provision of this act the courts shall in addition to any other punishment pass an order for the forfeiture of the animal that has been subjected to cruelty.
    • The person against whom such order is made shall be unable to have custody of any animal either permanently or for a fixed period of time.
    • If the guilty person contravenes any provision of the order, then such person shall be punishable with a fine up to Rs 100 or imprisonment up to 3 months or both.
  • Section 35:
    According to Section 35 of this Act;
    • State Government may appoint infirmaries for the treating and caring of the animals in respect of which offences under this Act have been committed, and may authorize the detention of any animal which requires its production before a magistrate.
    • The magistrate before whom prosecution for an offence against this Act has been instituted, may direct that the animal concerned shall be treated and cared by an infirmary until its recovery, or that it shall be sent to a pinjrapole. Also, if the veterinary officer in charge of the area in which it is traced or such other veterinary officer as may be authorized in this behalf certifies that such injury is incurable or irremovable without cruelty, then it shall be destroyed.
    • An animal sent to an infirmary, for care and treatment shall not be released from such place unless the magistrate directs that it shall be sent to a pinjrapole or for its destruction, except upon a discharge certificate issued by the veterinary officer in charge of the area in which the infirmary is located or such other veterinary officer as may be authorized in this behalf.
    • The transportation cost for sending the animal to an infirmary or pinjrapole, its maintenance, and treatment in such infirmary, shall be payable by the owner as per the scale of rates to be prescribed by the district magistrate, or, in case of the presidency-towns, by the Commissioner of police.
    • Provided that if the owner of the animal is penurious, the Magistrate shall make an order waiving the payment of the charge for the treatment of the animal
    • Any amount payable by an animal owner may be recovered in resembling manner as an arrear of land revenue.
    • If the owner acts negatively to remove the animal within the time specified by the Magistrate, then the magistrate may direct for its selling and that the sales proceeding be applied to recover such cost.
    • The surplus, if any, from the sales proceeds shall, on an application by the owner within 2 months from the sale date, be paid to him.

While the Prevention of Cruelty on Animals Act,1960 was one of the first steps taken by the Government of India towards animal welfare the law unfortunately has not been changed or revised since its passing in 1960. The act therefore is extremely archaic and fails to properly safeguard the lives and rights of animals in India. The lack of stronger penalties in the act does nothing to deter crimes against animals and in fact might even make offender believe that multiple offences can be committed since there is no real punishment for the crimes.

Currently India lacks laws that can protect the animals in the country from abusive humans. There is a dire need for changes in the current laws and an increasing requirement for stricter and more stringent provisions in the country for better protection of animal lives and people who work for animal welfare.

  • The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act, 1960

Award Winning Article Is Written By: Mr.Siddh S Khurana
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