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Legal Provisions Relating To Animal Poaching In India

The history tells us about how early man has survived in his era by making animal hunting as his basic survival hobby. But looking forward in the present era things has changed drastically where animal hunting is crime under the eyes of Law. Animal Poaching understanding the above-mentioned term is not only a subject of brain for one but it is subjected to heart as well. On a simple note, poaching means illegal killing, hunting or capturing of animals.

The main agenda behind the act of poaching is for the trade of animal products like animal skin, tooth, horn, bones, etc. Animal poaching is not only something that is a worrying subject in domestic area but on an international level. Because the act of animal poaching has adverse effect on animal species which is resulting in extinction of these species. To control this particular act the countries have come up with legal regulations for safeguarding the wildlife.

India is one of the blessed countries in the world to have abundant "wildlife and natural beauty". To combat the poaching acts in the country India has come up with the laws relating to the animal poaching with time to time. In this paper, we are going to discuss legal provisions relating to the animal poaching.

"The greatness of the nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated"- Mahatma Gandhi

The above quote emphasis real and raw taught for the upliftment of the protection of wildlife. In Indian culture where its root is oriented from Hinduism, animals were treated with due respect which was a true hobby from its Puranas and Ithihas but on the other hand we must admit that animal poaching was also an engaging matter in India.

Animal poaching can said to be the illegal hunting, killing or capturing of wild animals. Poaching of the animals has always been included in the human life activities since the early period the survival is based on animal products like skin, their nails etc. The perception on this particular topic had been changed since the years on the moral sense as well as well in the legal sense.

India, the is seventh largest country in the world has 4 out of the 36 bio-diversity hotspots1 in the world. Has been labelled as home to the rare species ranging from Bengal Tigers to Great Indian Rhinoceros. The protection of animals from animal cruelty to the animal poaching has seen a prominent change since years. Not only as a moral obligation but as a legal obligation as well.

The protection of animals was a fundamental duty in Indian Constitution and there are serval laws relating to the animal welfare from anti-poaching to animal cruelty, which makes us, believe the importance that the Indian Judiciary has allocated for the animal welfare.

Laws relating to animal poaching in India

Right from the Constitution of India to other acts, there has been the laws that relates to animal welfare in the Indian Judiciary. Laws relating to poaching is also mentioned in these laws. In this paper, I would like to mention some of the precedents that took place along with laws relating to poaching in India.
  1. Constitution of India
    The Constitution of India makes it the "duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have comparisons for all creatures."2 Under provision 51 A (g)

    On the other hand, the constitutional duty of animal protection is supplemented by the Directive Principles of State Policy under the provision of article 48A. 3

    Both the above-mentioned provisions were introduced by the 42th amendment in the year 1976. While these provisions were not directly enforced in the Indian courts they lay down the foundation for the laws, legislation, polices for the state and centre related to animal welfare, which involves provisions relating to poaching as well.
  2. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
    This Act consists of 60 sections, VI schedules divided under VIII chapters. It is one of the most important Act functioning for the protection of the animals. It provides authorities to implement and administrate the Act, regulate the hunting of wild animals protect specified plants, sanctuaries, national parks and closed areas, restrict illegal trade and commerce in wild animals or animal articles and miscellaneous matters. Section 39 of this Act4 specifies that any wild animal hunted, bred, fed, found killed, alive or dead shall be property of State Government. Section 9 of this Act provides prohibition of hunting of wild birds.5

    Case laws:
    • Sansar v. State 6
      In the above-mentioned case, the Court did not grant the relief to the notorious poacher of wild animal under section of 497 and 578 of this Act.
    • GR Simon v. Union of India 9
      In this case the petitioner, who had a leather material made out of snake skin questioned the constitutional validity of this Act. And argued that it is colorable legislation which is challenging the fundamental right i.e article 19(1) (g) of the Indian Constitution that is to carry out any trade and commerce freely.

      The honorable Delhi High Court stated that under WPA, 1972 (1991 Amendment)10 states that any activity against the public interest and cause harm to society is prohibited and animal are very important part of our natural society. Thus, they should be protected. Hence the WPA, 1972 (1991 Amendment) is fully constitutional.
    • Babaran Kumawat v. Union of India 11
      An Ivory trader who was poaching the wild elephants and was selling it in the name of Mammoth Ivory was punished under this Act.
  3. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
    This Act aims at the animal welfare, which enables the penalty to offenders for cruelty to animals. In year 2017, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change has released new Gazette notifications under this Act to Dog breeding, animal markets, Aquarium and pet a Fish shop owner.

    Section 11(1) (a) to (o)12 of this Act prescribes and enumerates different forms of cruelty to animals. It provides that any crime against the animals with imprisonment and fine.
    In 2017, the cruelties were mentioned not to take place in markets such as hot branding and cold branding, mutilating animal ears, force-feeding animal's fluid to make them come out fatter to fetch and better price more 13.

    Case law:
    • Animal Welfare Board Of India v. A. Nagaraja and Ors 14
      Also known as Jallikattu case. Is a landmark recent judgment where the Supreme Court of India held for the rights of the animals breaking all the religious, traditional barriers and banned the large scaled practice of bull cart racing in the southern state of India.

      i.e. Tamil Nadu inspite of the repugnancy (i.e. in conflict or incompatible with) on the concerned matter between provisions of the State Act i.e. the TNRJ Act (Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009) and the Central Act i.e. the PCA Act. In addition, this judgment was appreciated by many animal welfare organizations all over the world. This was a great significant judgment reflecting the conscience of the judiciary of India and legal system toward the matters of animal welfare.

      "Supreme Court observed that, in the matters of welfare legislation, the provisions of law should be liberally construed in favour of the weak and infirm. Court also should be vigilant to see that subtle devices do not defeat benefits conferred by such remedial and welfare legislations. Court has got the duty that, in every case, where ingenuity is expanded to avoid welfare legislations, to get behind the smoke-screen and discover the true state of affairs.

      Court can go behind the form and see the substance of the devise for which it has to pierce the veil and examine whether the guidelines or the regulations are framed so as to achieve some other purpose than the welfare of the animals. Regulations or guidelines, whether statutory or otherwise, if they purport to dilute or defeat the welfare legislation and the constitutional principles, Court should not hesitate to strike them down so as to achieve the ultimate object and purpose of the welfare legislation. Court has also a duty under the doctrine of parent's patriate to take care of the rights of animals, since they are unable to take care of themselves as against human beings."15
      Moreover, on the hand it was labelled that the case was the grand asset from the PCA ACT

      "The court spoke of how this uncivilized event violates the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) and militates the constitutional duty of treating animals with compassion, Article 51 A (g). It also reiterated the expansive reading it had given in the past, to Article 21 (Right to Life), which prohibits any disturbance to the environment, including animals, considered essential for human life. And the apex court went well beyond and delivered a judgment that essentially upholds the right to a dignified life for all animals. Any law that attempts to reverse this carefully evolved jurisprudence cannot stand the test of constitutional propriety"16
  4. Indian Penal Code, 1960
    Section 428 and 429 of IPC17 reads that killing, poaching, maiming, poisoning or torturing an animal is a cognizable offence and immediately FIR must be filled in the police station. The punishment for such act is rigours imprisonment, which may extent to five years or fine or both.

    These provisions are very much important for safeguarding the rights of animals and animal welfare. These laws also add the strength to the laws relating to poaching of animals which also enumerates the penal provision for punishment for the act as well.
  5. Other Laws
    Apart from above mentioned Laws there are other Laws such as The prohibition of animal sacrifice Act which is subjected to only few states in India. And Experiment on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1968 etc and these laws partially deals with poaching act.

Recommendation & Suggestions
Over the years the animal laws in India have been amended and made possible to make the drastic changes for the effective implementation of these Laws. On the other hand, still, animals were not free from being subjected to cruelty such as poaching. Poaching also involves illegal trade of animals which is a multi-billion-dollar business which isn't only a domestic problem but international as well. The 42nd amendment can be said to be the torch-barer for animal laws which has come in the year 1976. Moving on to the Acts the provisions were really a genuine attempt for the benefit of the animal welfare but somewhere lacking in the practical applicability.

The main drawback was the negligible penalties of the PCA Act and some other Acts that are acting as the spoilers for the implementation of the objectives of these animal laws. "G. Dowlat Khan an inspector with SPCA (Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals) for the past 33 years said that outdated legal provisions, that abysmally low fine amount and shortage of inspectors had resulted in increased cruelty towards the animals of late."18

Awareness Among The Public
The main objective for the fulfilment of the need and urge of the animal welfare can be achieved through the public awareness this should be the main target for the government as well the organizations that taking care of the animals. Even in schools and educational institutions there should be special classes for the animal welfare. This public awareness can't be achieved until and unless people were educated about this particular topic.

Uniform Animal Welfare Law
The Animal Welfare Board of India has drafted a Draft Animal Welfare Act which has covered almost all of the necessary rectification that are to be made in the present PCA Act, 1960, thus it should be brought into force by the parliament in place of the PCA Act as soon as possible. Currently the penalty for cruelty to animals is between Rs 10 to 50 for the first offence, which may go up to Rs 100 for a subsequent offence or up to three months in prison.

The draft Bill, if passed in its current form, would result in the penalty for cruelty to animals being between Rs 10,000 and 25,000 or imprisonment for up to two years- or both-for a first offence. For a subsequent offence, the penalty would be between 50,000 rupees and one lakh rupees and imprisonment for one to three years.

It also recognizes various rights of the animals. It also has provision regarding the establishment of state animal welfare board which would highly help in the implementation and enforcement of the laws made in this draft. Its Section-14 reads Each State Animal Welfare Board shall ensure that the Act and the Rules framed under this Act are given widespread publicity in the State, and that due and adequate training is provided to all government officers who are required to enforce the provisions of this Act and the Rules made there under.

However, some may say that there is ambiguity relating to experimentation of animals, I think that this draft bill is the need of the time which should be enacted at the earliest without any further a due.

On the final note of this paper, I would like conclude it by saying that animal poaching is an illegal activity that should be eradicated from the human culture. Animal poaching is not only a subject of law but on the other hand; it is matter of human heart. This particular topic need more of human attention. Because we knew that if there is something important on this Erath that will definitely be "LIFE". Now the question is only Human life.

The answer will definitely be no it is applicable to all the species on this Earth. So, it the fundamental right of the human being to save the life of the animals as well. Killing of an animal for the trade purpose is something that describes the ill thinking nature of the

humans. The killing of the animal is no exception because in my view when we have no power to create or generate a life to any species then we do not have any right to take away the life of the other species. Animal poaching shouldn't be the lesson that we teach to our future generations already we have seen animal species which were not in existence except in books and videos.

The Indian Laws relating to the animal poaching should be very much effective as compared to the present days. Still the fever of animal poaching is in existence in India. On the other hand the organization and NGO's working for the welfare of animals should focus on the awareness programs along with laws and penalties that is present in the Indian Judiciary relating to the crimes against animals.

Killing of animal in the name of self-defense should also be look after in Indian Laws. In most genuine cases we must give a sign of relief but the cause for the act should be clearly be said.

  1. 36 Global Biodiversity hotspots, available at biodiversity-hotspots-examples/ ( visited on January 30, 2021).
  2. The Constitution of India, Article 51 A (g).
  3. The Constitution of India, Article 48A.
  4. The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, Section 39.
  5. The Wild Life (protection) Act, 1972, Section 5.
  6. AIR 1994 del. 13, 1994 DRJ 281.
  7. The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, Section 49.
  8. The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, Section 57.
  9. AIR 1997 Del.267.
  10. Wild Life (Protection) Amendment Act, 1991.
  11. AIR 2003 SC 3268
  12. The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act, 1970, Section 11 (a) to (o).
  13. India passes new rules to protect animals, available at rules-protect-animals/ (Last Modified May 27, 2017).
  14. SLP ( C ) CC..4268 OF 2013.
  15. Mariamma.A.K, Case Comment on "Animal Welfare Board of India VS. A. Nagaraja & Others, Vol. 2 Issue one Journal of Legal Analysis And Research 24, 36 (2015
  16. Sruthisagar Yamunan, Taming bulls, maming rights, The Times of India, available at (Last Visited January 31, 2021).
  17. Indian Penal Code, 1960, section 428, 429
  18. Cruelty to Animal on the rise, available at on-the-rise/article5076494.ece (Last Visited 31 January, 2021)
Written By: Chalasani Jainesh

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