Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 – An Overview


There are many theories on ‘How the law is made up of’. But, when we focus on the functions of the laws then we notice that law is not only for human beings but also works for the things by which humans are surrounded for better survival and to maintain the balance between nature and humans. It means that law is also available for animals, other living and non-living things. Being human this is our responsibility to take care of those who are unable to take care of themselves.

Animals, similar to humans are capable of sensing both physical and mental pain and also the severity of physical and mental pain. Animals have feelings too. They have seen crying and also seen committing suicide. Mother Earth belongs to all species either humans or animals or trees.

With this vision, there are many acts framed by the legislature and also many guidelines issued by the courts to conserve the heritage of the earth. In this way legislature passed an act named ‘Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, to prevent the animals from cruelty, ensuring punishment for the persons indulged in such activity, establishing animal welfare board and also identify which act is said as cruelty upon animals.

Let’s analyze the act:

Objectives of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

An act to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals as well as to prevent of cruelty to animals, it simply means that this act summarizes all the acts of unnecessary pain or act of cruelty and ensures punishment for those who are indulged in such activities.

Salient features of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

1. Defines animals and their different kinds under this Act.

2. Ensure punishments for the act of cruelty to animals

3. Discuss different forms of cruelty, exceptions, and killing of a suffering animal from cruelty to save it from further cruelty

4. Provisions relating to the establishment of an animal welfare board and its constitution, powers and functions

5. Providing guidelines for the experimentation on animals for scientific purposes

6. Provisions relating to exhibition and offences against the performing animals

7. No prosecution shall lie for any offences beyond three months of such act

Who are animals and their kinds under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960:

Under Section 2(a) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, animal’ means any living creature other than a human being. As it is clear from the definition, animals are not only mammals but also include reptiles, birds and other creatures etc. For example:- lion, peacock, snake, lizards, alligators, tortoise, dogs, cats etc.

Captive animals

Under Section 2(c) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, ‘captive animal’ means any animal (not being a domestic animal) whether permanent or temporary captivity or confinement, on which is subjected to any appliance or contrivance with a view of hindering or preventing its escape from captivity or confinement or which is pinioned or appears to be maimed.

Domestic animals

According to Section 2(d) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 ‘Domestic animal’ means any domesticated or tamed or sufficiently domesticated to serve some useful purpose of the man, or which is wholly or partly domesticated or neither has been nor is being intended.

Animal Welfare Board

Section 4 to 10 of the Act are related to the provisions of the Animal Welfare Board, its constitution and its function.

For the purpose of preventing animals from unnecessary pain and suffering, there shall be a board established by the central government named as Animal Welfare Board of India, according to Section 4 of the Act.

The board [Animal Welfare Board of India] shall be a body corporate having perpetual succession and a common seal with power:-

1. To acquire, hold and dispose of property

2. To sue and to be sued by its name

Constitution of the board

According to Section 5 of the act, the board shall consist of:

1. The Inspector-General of forests to the government of India, ex-officio

2. The Animal husbandry commissioner, Government of India, ex-officio

3. Two persons appointed by the central government to represent the ministries of home affairs & education of the central government respectively.

4. One person appointed by the central government to represent the Wild Life Board of India.

5. Three persons who are well-known humanitarians actively engaged in animal welfare work in the opinion of the central government, to be nominated by the central government.

6. One person elected by the association of veterinary practitioners to represent such association as in the opinion of the central government ought to be represented on the board.

7. Two persons to represent practitioners of modern and indigenous systems of medicine.

8. One person from each of such two municipal corporations as said by the central government.

9. One person from each of such three organizations which are interested in animal welfare.

10. One person from each of such three societies dealing with the prevention of cruelty to animals.

11. Three persons nominated by the central government.

12. Six members of parliament; four from Lok Sabha and two from Rajya Sabha.

Any person from, first four points may depute any other person to attend any of the meetings of the board.

The central government shall nominate any member as its chairman and another member as its vice-chairman.

Funds of the Board

According to Section 8 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 the funds of the board shall consist of:-

1. Grants made to it from time to time by the government

2. Contribution

3. Donations

4. Subscriptions

5. Bequests

6. Gifts, and

7. The likes made to the board by any local authority or by any other persons.

Functions of the Board

According to Section 9 of the act, the functions of the board shall be:-

1. To keep the law in force and advise the central government regarding amendments.

2. To advise the central government on making rules under the act to prevent unnecessary pain or suffering while transported.

3. To advise the government or local authority or any other person about the design of vehicles.

4. To take steps for veterinary assistance to animals like sheds, water, as the Board may think fit for the amelioration of animals.

5. To advise the government on the design of slaughterhouses.

6. Whenever it is necessary to do so, the local authority will destroy unwanted animals as the board may think fit, either instantaneously or after being rendered insensible to pain or suffering.

7. For the old animals and birds, with the help of financial assistance, the board encourage to establish or form pinjrapoles, rescue homes, animal shelters, sanctuaries and the like.

8. To co-operate or co-ordinate with the bodies or associations which are in the work of preventing animals from unnecessary pain.

9. To give financial and other assistance to animals welfare organizations that work under the general supervision and guidance of the board.

10. To advise the government on matters relating to medical care and to give financial help to animal hospitals.

11. To impart education in relation to the humane treatment of animals, to encourage and promote animal welfare by means of lectures, books, posters, cinematographic exhibitions and the like.

12. To advise the government on any matter related to animals welfare.

Power of the board

According to Section 10 of the act, with the prior approval of the central government, the Board may make regulations for the administration of its affairs and its functions as it may think fit.

Cruelty to Animals in General

According to Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, an act may be treated as cruelty to animals if any person:-

1. Treat any animal in such a way that they are suffering from unnecessary pain by the act like beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures or any kind or mental or physical pain.

2. Employed any such animals which are undergoing any injury, wound, sore or any other physical pain.

3. Administer or attempt to cause any injurious drug or substance to be taken by any animal.

4. Convey or carry any animal in such a way that the animal suffers from unnecessary pain.

5. Keeps or confines any animals in any cage or other place which is not fit or sufficient for the movement of that animal.

6. Keeps any animal chained or tethered without any valid reason.

7. Being the owner, kept any dog in closed confinement or chained up habitually, or neglects to exercise.

8. Being the owner of any animal fails to provide proper food, drink, or shelter.

9. Without a valid reason, abandons any animal in such circumstances where animal suffers pain by reason of starvation or thirst.

10. Willfully permits any animal by the owner to go at large in any street or to die in any street with having contagious or infectious disease without any reasonable excuse.

11. Offers for sale, or any animal is suffering pain because of mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or other ill-treatment without reasonable cause in his possession.

12. Mutilates or cut-up or kills any animal including stray dogs by strychnine injection in the heart or by any other cruel manner.

Only with a view of entertainment:-

1. Confines or ties any animal as bait to make it as prey for another animal.

2. Incites any animal to fight or bait any other animal.

3. For the purpose of animals fighting or baiting by organizing, keeping, using or acting in the management of any place for such purpose.

4. Promote or taking part in any shooting match or competition where captive animals are released for such a match or competition.


1. In case of first offence:-

Fine, not less than ten rupees but which may extend to fifty rupees.

2. In case of second offence or subsequent offence committed within three years of the previous offence:-

Fine, not less than twenty-five rupees but which may extend to one hundred rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with both.

The Act excluded from the ambit of cruelty:

1. Dehorning of cattle or castration or branding or nose-roping of any animal if done in the manner prescribed

2. Destruction of stray dogs in lethal chamber or manner prescribed

3. Extermination or destruction of any animal by the method of existing law or by the authority under any existing law.

4. Any matter under chapter IV of this act

5. Destruction of any animal as food for mankind without giving unnecessary pain or suffering to the animal

Destruction or killing of suffering animal:

According to Section 13 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

If the owner of an animal is convicted under Section 11 of the Act and if the court believes that keeping alive of that animal will be cruel then the court may order to destruct that animal without unnecessary pain and order to recover the expenses in destroying that animal by the owner.

Provided that unless the owner assents thereto, no such order shall be made by the court without the evidence of a veterinary officer in charge of the area-

1. Any magistrate, commissioner of police, or district superintendent of police may order to destruct an animal on which cruelty did under Section 11 and a reason to believe that keeping this animal alive will be cruel.

2. Any police officer above the rank of constable or any other person authorized by the state after obtaining consent from the owner or if the owner refuses then evidence from the veterinary officer in charge of area and orders from a magistrate may destruct an animal which is suffering from a severe disease or injuries or such physical condition which may not remove without cruelty.

3. Orders of a magistrate is non-appealable regarding the destruction of the animal.

Experimentation on animals

According to Section 14 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, nothing in this act shall render the performance of experiments unlawful for the purposes:-

  1. Advancement of physiological knowledge by new discovery
  2. Useful for saving life
  3. Useful for prolonging life
  4. Useful for alleviating suffering
  5. Useful for combating diseases

Whether of human beings, animals or plants

Committee for controlling and supervising the experiments performed on the animals:

According to Section 15 of the Act, if any time it is necessary to do so, the central government on the advice of the board may constitute a committee consisting of official and non-official members for the purpose of controlling and supervising experiments on animals, by notification in the official gazette.

Performing Animals or Uses Animals for Performance

Exhibition and training:

Exhibit and train defined under Section 21 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, exhibit means to exhibit or present to the public for entertainment through the sale of tickets and train means to train for such exposure or exhibition.

Restriction on exhibition and training of performing animals:

According to Section 22 of the Act, no one is allowed to exhibit or train any performing animal:

1. Without registration

2. On which central government put restriction to exhibit or train by notification in the official gazette

The procedure of registration:

The procedure of registration is given under Section 23 of the act, any person willing to exhibit or train any performing animal shall make an application in a prescribed form to the prescribed authority and on the payment of the prescribed fee, he gets registered unless court-ordered not to be so registered.

Power of court to prohibit exhibition and training of performing animals:

Under Section 24 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, if it is proved that the exhibition and training of performing animal accompanied with unnecessary pain on the complaint made by a police officer or any officer or by the prescribed authority referred to in Section 23 to the magistrate in writing then the court prohibits the exhibition and training.

Offence in regards of performing animals:

According to Section 26 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, if anyone:-

1. Exhibition or training of any performing animal without registration

2. Exhibition or training of any performing animal other than those animals for which registration is done

3. Exhibition or training of such performing animals which are prohibited by the government

4. Obstruct in the exercise of powers of officers referred in Section- 25

5. Conceals any animal during the inspection

6. Fails to produce certificate without any reasonable excuse

7. Applied for registration when not entitled to do so

The punishment prescribed on conviction of such offence shall punish with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees or with imprisonment which may extend to three months or with both.


Nothing in this chapter shall apply to:-

1. Training of animals for bona fide military or police purposes or exhibition of any animal after such training.

2. Animals in the zoological garden or by any society or association which principal object is for education or scientific purpose.

Other Provisions

The killing of an animal for religious purposes:

According to Section 28 of the Act, killing of an animal for religious purposes shall not come under this act. No offence is committed when an animal is killed for religious purposes.

Treatment and care of animals:

According to Section 35 of the Act, by special or general order the state government appoint infirmaries for the treatment and care of animals which undergone cruel act and may authorize the detention of animals which production before a magistrate is pending.

Limitation of prosecution:

According to Section 36 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, after the expiration of the period of three months from the date of commission of the offence, no offence instituted against this act.


The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is the first act which ensures punishment against the act of cruelty to animals and also mentions different act as cruelty under this act. In 1972, Wildlife Protection Act is passed for the protection of wild animals. Both acts provide a strong base for the protection of animals. Animals are similar to humans, as human rights are protected by the Constitution of India, in the same way this act protects the rights of animals. This act shows our humanity.

This article has been written by Varun Kumar, 4th Year B.A.LL.B student at Shri Ramswaroop Memorial University

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