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Introduction The issue of animal rights has gained increasing attention in recent times in India. While India has a rich tradition of respect and reverence for animals, the country has also been known for its practice of animal exploitation and cruelty. This blog analyzes the national and international legal rights for animals in India with a focus on the relevant laws, the judiciary's role in upholding these laws, and the important case laws that have been instrumental in advancing animal rights.

National Legal Framework for Animal Rights in India

The Constitution of India does not explicitly provide for animal rights. However, Article 51A(g) of the Constitution imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment, including animals. Additionally, Article 48 of the Directive Principles of State Policy advises states to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines and to protect cows, calves and other milch and draught animals from slaughter.The Supreme Court of India has also given several landmark judgments that recognize the constitutional importance of animal welfare. For instance, in the Narayan Dutt Bhatia vs. Union of India case, the court recognized that animals have legal rights and upheld the right of animals to live with dignity and without unnecessary cruelty.

The primary law governing animal welfare in India is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA). The PCA seeks to prevent and punish cruelty to animals and provides for the establishment of animal welfare boards and societies. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001 and the Transport of Animal Rules, 1978, regulate the transportation and slaughter of animals.

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, regulates the hunting and poaching of wild animals and also provides for the conservation of species. The act also lists some animals as protected, and their hunting is prohibited.

The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, are aimed at controlling dog population and management of stray dogs. Besides, the drug controller general of India has banned the use of chloramphenicol in food-producing animals.

Role of JudiciaryIndia has a strong and independent judiciary that has played an important role in protecting animal rights. In several judgments, the Supreme Court of India has recognized animal welfare as an integral part of Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to life and personal liberty. The Court has also upheld the importance of enforcing animal protection laws and punishing violations. The judiciary's role has been pivotal in enforcing the PCA and implementing animal welfare regulations.

Case Laws

Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja (2014): In this case, the Supreme Court of India directed states to implement the PCA and to ensure that animal welfare regulations were enforced. The court held that animal welfare was integral to a modern and democratic society and that the statute should be interpreted in a manner that furthers the purpose of animal welfare. The court also banned the use of certain tools and implements, such as bullhooks and sticks, in training elephants.

People for Animals v. State of Maharashtra (2014): In this case, the Bombay High Court directed the state of Maharashtra to implement the PCA and other animal welfare laws. The court also directed the state to ensure that illegal cattle slaughterhouses were shut down. Animal Welfare Board of India v. People for Elimination of Stray Troubles (2008): In this case, the Supreme Court of India directed the implementation of the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, and the regulation of stray dogs. The Court also ordered States to ensure sterilization programs were implemented.

International Legal framework for animals

International Convention for Protecting Animal Rights, also known as the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare (UDAW) was adopted by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on 23rd May 2003. It serves as a guideline for all countries to ensure the protection of animals and their welfare. India, being a member of the OIE, ratified the convention on 13th December 2012.

The UDAW has three main objectives – recognition of animals as sentient beings, ensuring their welfare, and promoting their protection and preservation. It calls for the integration of animal welfare into various policy frameworks, including agriculture, forestry, and environmental policies. The convention also promotes the involvement of communities and stakeholders in protecting animals.

India has several laws and policies in place that comply with the UDAW. Some of the key laws include the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and the Indian Penal Code. Additionally, the Indian government has set up different agencies and departments to oversee animal welfare, such as the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), and the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA). However, despite these laws and policies, animal welfare in India remains a major concern. There have been instances of animal abuse and neglect, and there is a lack of proper implementation of animal welfare laws. The UDAW encourages the adoption of international standards on animal welfare and encourages the involvement of civil society, experts, and non-governmental organizations to promote animal welfare.


In conclusion, India's ratification of the Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare is a significant step towards ensuring the protection and welfare of animals. However, more needs to be done in terms of policy implementation, enforcement, and community involvement to improve animal welfare in the country.However, despite these legal protections, there are still several challenges in enforcing animal rights in India. Animal welfare organizations and individuals need to continue to advocate for stronger enforcement of these laws and ensure that animal rights are respected in practice.


1. Constitution of India, art. 51A(g). 2. Constitution of India, art. 48. 3. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. 4. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001. 5. Transport of Animals Rules, 1978. 6. Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. 7. Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001. 8. Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, (2014) 7 SCC 547. 9. People for Animals v. State of Maharashtra, (2014) SCC OnLineBom 2610. 10. Animal Welfare Board of India v. People for Elimination of Stray Troubles, (2008) 4 SCC 497. 11. PrakashSalvi, Animal Rights in India and Role of Judiciary in Its Enforcement, International Journal of Law and Legal Jurisprudence Studies, Vol. 4 Issue 3.

12. (UDAW) Universal Declaration On Animal Welfare. (n.d.).Retrieved from 13.Animal Welfare Board of India.(n.d.).Retrieved from 14.Central Zoo Authority.(n.d.).Retrieved from 15.National Biodiversity Authority.(n.d.). Retrieved from


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