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ANIMAL PROTECTION LAWS IN INDIA

Author: Shreya Deepak Mujmer, III year of B.A., LL.B. from School of Law, Devi Ahilya VishwaVidalaya, Indore (M.P)



“The greatness of a Nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

- Mahatma Gandhi

Man and Animal have existed in Nature for as long as time maybe. Man is said to have evolved from Animals. But, India has always had a questionable status about Animals, whether Pro-Animal or a culture of killing animals as worship and sacrifice to deities and Gods or even for its sheer excitement. The case of the State of Karnataka and anr. V. Dr. Praveen Bhai Thogadia also emphasizes the idea of “Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavantu”. But since the concept of Humanity is somewhat vague and subjective, there has been a growth in the display of inhumane attitude towards Animals on the ground of either religion or even mere adventure. Humans have been seizing the natural habitat of animals since so long and due to this animals have been entering into human settlements leading to angry confrontations. To ensure the safeguarding of animals and to keep a balance in nature, laws have been introduced. This leads to point out that even though there are legislations, their improper and inefficient implementation has diluted their basic idea and that something must be done to save those that cannot speak for themselves.


Animals have been a part of India since time immemorial, from being used as an aid in agriculture or even war to being used as a means of transport. Their rights were not codified or even recognised back then. It is as a result of many years of emotional as well as intellectual knowledge and several human rights conventions and studies that animals were also given rights and were protected by laws.

This article shares an overview of some prevalent animal protection laws in India.

Under the Constitution of India, Article 51-A(g) it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect wildlife and have compassion and love for all living creatures. Article 48-A creates a duty on the state to protect and safeguard and improve the conditions of forests and wildlife in India. Prevention of cruelty to animals Act 1960 was the first act made post-independence in this reference but it has not been kept up with. Some more legal provision for the protection of different animals areas,

1. Laws relating to Pets

These are covered in section 11 of the prevention of cruelty to animals act and cover any person who is the owner of animals or who intentionally and habitually chains his dog in confinement, an owner who fails to provide his pet with sufficient food, water and shelter (section 11h), any person who abandons an animal in such a situation where the animal is bound to suffer pain due to starvation or thirst without any reasonable cause (section 11i), an owner who intentionally and negligently allows an infected, diseased or disabled animal to go into any street without any permit or leave the animal to die in any street (section 11j). Also, any person who prevents the owner of a pet from taking care of their pet under section 503 of IPC.

2. Laws relating to Street Animals

Killing, maiming, poisoning or hurting any animal is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years or with fine or with both, under Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Under Section 429 of the Code, the term is 5 years and is applicable when the cost of the animal is above 50 Rs. Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act states that if any person allows, or himself beats, kicks or tortures, in any way, any animal subjecting it to unnecessary pain and suffering will be liable to pay a fine of up to 50 Rs. In case of repetition of the offence, the fine will increase or imprisonment for 3 months will be granted.

3. Laws relating to Aquatic animals

The wildlife protection act, as seen above includes aquatic animals too. Marine species in India are protected through the means of creating Marine Protected Areas, (MPA). The schedule 1-4 of the wildlife act provides a list of all protected marine species. Schedule 3 protects all kinds of sponges and Schedule 4 contains for a variety of molluscs. Dolphins placed in schedule 1, are named as the national aquatic animals of India. Commercial use of dolphins is banned in India.

4. Laws relating to Wild Animals

Wildlife protection act prohibits trapping, killing, poaching, poisoning or harming animals in any other way. It even lays for the establishment of wildlife advisory boards in each state. Section 2 of this Act says that wildlife includes any animal, aquatic or land vegetation making the definition wide and inclusive. Section 9 prohibits the hunting of any wild animal ( specified in schedule 1,2,3,4) and lays a punishment for the same at imprisonment extendable till 3 years and a fine of Rs.25000. It also allows the central and the state government to declare any restricted area as a sanctuary or wildlife or national park and prohibit any industrial activity around this area. Section 49 prohibits the purchasing without the license of wild animals from dealers.

5. Laws relating to Birds

Included in both, the wildlife protection act and the prevention of cruelty to animals act. Section 11(o) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act provides for punishment for a person who engages or promotes taking part in any sport for hunting where animals are released from captivity for shooting. Under section 16(c) of the wildlife protection act, hurting or injuring any wild bird or reptile or even their eggs and nests is unlawful. Anyone found guilty of this shall be punished with imprisonment of up to 7 years and a fine of Rs.25000.

6. Laws relating to working Animals or Cattle

The third chapter of Prevention of cruelty to animals act deals with cruelty to animals generally. The following acts are punishable by a fine up to Rs. 25-100 as under Section 11 with a maximum of three months of imprisonment on the repetition of the said acts- anybody who employs any unfit animal, suffering from wound, infirmity, sores or an animal of old age, to work. -Section 11, (b) anybody who carries any animal subjecting it to pain or suffering. – Section 11 (d), keeps an animal in a cage or any other such confinement which is not sufficiently big enough as to let the animal move freely. -Section 11 (e), any owner of an animal who allows his animal, affected with a contagious or infectious disease to die in any street. -Section 11, (j)any person who offers for sale an animal that is suffering from pain due to mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or ill-treatment. -Section 11 (k).

7. Laws for animals used entertainment purposes

A special act named the performing animal rules 1973, makes it necessary to register all animals that are being used for entertainment purposes under it. The fifth chapter of the Prevention of cruelty to animals act also talks about performing animals and section 26 of the same provides a fine of Rs. 500 or imprisonment of up to 3 months or both if a person uses an animal for entertainment purposes.

8. Zoo animal-related laws

Animals in zoos are also covered under the wildlife protection act. According to section 38A of the Act, there must be a Central Zoo Authority, which specifies the minimum standard of keeping the animals in Zoo, to recognize endangered species of animals in the zoo and to assign responsibilities for their captive breeding, to recognize and to derecognize zoos.

9. Laws relating to testing and experiments on animals

Many animals like rats, rabbits, small birds, dogs, lambs, guinea pigs etc are often tested and experimented upon which causes them great pain and they also die many times in the process. Owing to the second amendment in the Drugs and cosmetics rules of 2014, animal testing for cosmetic products is banned all over India. Also according to Rule 135B of the same Rules, any cosmetic that has been tested on animals shall not be imported in the country. The committee for control and supervision of experiments on animals released the breeding of and experiments on animals rules 1998, that regulates the experimentation on animals. Also, dissection and experimentation on animals in schools and colleges in India is banned.

However, laws aforementioned have not been updated and kept up with. The fines they impose along with the term of imprisonment does not create any sense of fear in an abettor. This in turn provides an escape from the law with minimal punishment and eventually does not affect. Like any other law, these too need to be brushed up continuously. Environmentalists, animal rights activists, several NGOs, and scientists and zoologists continue to create awareness and fight for Animals and their protection. Many and most religions also do not condemn harming, hunting or maiming animals of any kind, but there have always been people who made changes and sacrificed animals as a form of worship.

The Kerala pregnant elephant incident where a man offered a cracker-filled pineapple to a pregnant elephant which led to her suffering serious injuries to internal organs and jaws and eventually dying is also an example of human cruelty. The incident enraged many people all around the world and so the case was thoroughly investigated too. Similar cases happened in many parts of India like the pregnant cow case from Himachal Pradesh and the Jackal case from Tamil Nadu.

The importance of Animals can never be undermined. Their contribution to agriculture is indispensable. Ensuring a balance in nature is only possible if animals are not threatened and controlled over by humans. Animals also help in the field of therapy. Cutting down on forest area, deforestation for industrialisation are one of the main reasons why animals continue to interfere into human activities, creating a vicious cycle. Purchasing of animals for entertainment purposes, hunting, animal testing are just some threats that animals face. Killing for sport is also a transgression.

Man is said to be different from animals simply because he learnt to express and control his thoughts and emotions. It is necessary for both the citizens and the government to show sensitivity, responsibility and to use this power of expressing and controlling our thoughts and emotions to fight for those who cannot fight or speak for themselves. Both the laws and their punishments are in a dire need of check and update. It is man’s megalomania that has led him to believe that he has a right over nature and it’s the creation and this poses a threat to everyone in it. Why is a lamb's lifeless precious than that of a man is a question we must all ponder upon

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