“Animal protection is education to humanity “ -Albert Schweitzer
Every year there are more than a million cases of animal cruelty being reported worldwide. This can be for various reasons such as for the purpose of meat consumption, testing in laboratories, medical experiments, etc. Protecting animals is more than just the morally right thing to do but also a fundamental duty of every Indian. There are multiple acts and welfare legislations in India in order to prevent animal cruelty in India. Some acts such as the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 as well as Section 428 and 429 of the Indian constitution provide for the punishment of all acts of cruelty towards animals. The acts will be discussed in the further sections of this article.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 is a very important act which was established in order to end animal cruelty in India. It elaborates on the different kinds of cruel treatment towards animals and also prescribes the punishments for the same. The main objective of this act was to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain, harm or suffering towards animals. This Act was established by the Animal Welfare Board of India in the year 1960. The main functions of the act are as follows:
- Instructing and advising the government to avoid unnecessary pain while transporting them from one place to another.
- To prevent unnecessary pain and suffering
- Instructing laboratories and scientists to avoid performing life-threatening and harmful experiments on animals or storing them in captivity.
- Enshrines guidelines regarding experimentation of animals for science.
- The Act also restricts the exhibition and training of performing animals.
- Advising the government on matters regarding medical and financial assistance, and regulations for veterinary hospitals.
- Supporting and encouraging the construction of rescue homes, animal shelters, etc.
- Educating the general public, imparting knowledge and raising public awareness on safe and humane treatment of animals.
- Educating the government regarding all kinds of matters related to animals.
The PCA Act of 1960 empowers the general public and citizens, law agencies, etc to report any act of animal cruelty. It asks the government to take severe action and provide punishment to the culprits. There are various forms of animal cruelty that are covered in the PCA Act 1960. It has 16 sub-sections that talk about the forms of animal cruelty. The Act also explains the punishment for animal cruelty that is to be given for each of these forms of cruelty to the animals. The punishments can vary from a fine of Rs.10 to a fine of Rs.50 and sometimes the culprit may also be imprisoned for a period of three months or more.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act has proposed 3 main categories- minor injury, major injury and injuries leading to permanent disability due to cruel practices against animals. The penalties for these acts range from Rs.750 to Rs.75,000 along with imprisonment under certain conditions.
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
The Wildlife Protection Act came into force on 9th September 1972. This was a much-needed legislation in order to protect the wild animals who were being tortured, poached and hunted down at an alarmingly increasing rate. The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 consists 60 sections with VI schedules which was further divided into 8 chapters. As per Section 2 (37), the term ‘wildlife’ is defined as ‘any animal, aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat’. The Act came into force to protect India’s wildlife and the place where they live.
However, this Act is somewhat flawed as it does not completely protect the wildlife. The state can give a list of animals that they would like to kill and thus the government declares that to be selective slaughter. Selective slaughter is still slaughter and hence we can say that the wildlife is not protected and the animals do not enjoy specific protection under the Act.
Section 428 And 429 Of Indian Penal Code
With respect to Section 428 and 429 of the IPC, it states that it is illegal to harm or injure any animal through cruel acts such as poaching, injuring strays, throwing toxic substances on animals, etc. The injury can also be in the form of running over animals and injuring them with cars, bikes and other vehicles. Anyone who disobeys Section 428 and 429 of the IPC will be made to pay a penalty of minimum Rs.2000 or above. Some culprits can also be imprisoned for 5 years or above based on the severity of the injury caused.
Section 428 states that any person who commits a cruel act such as killing, poisoning, or rendering useless any animal of the value of Rs.10 or more shall be imprisoned for 2 years including fine in most cases.
Section 429 is similar to that of section 428 but the value changes from Rs. 10 to Rs. 50 and thus the punishment will be to imprison the culprit for a period of 5 years and above.
Different Kinds Of Animal Cruelty Under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
- Causing any kind of pain such as beating, kicking, overloading, overriding, torturing the animal.
- Employing an old and unfit animal for work or labour. A complaint can be filed if an old, injured and unfit animal is put to work
- Harming the animal by administering any injurious drug or substance such as oxytocin. The medicines can be administered only if it is prescribed by a veterinarian.
- Injuring the animals by carrying and transporting them in a cruel manner. The law states that a lorry can carry only up to six cattle and a wagon can carry only ten cattle.
- Keeping them from moving freely i.e., by keeping the animal in a place that hampers free movement.
- Using heavy chains and chords to restrict the animal from moving.
- Chaining a pet dog by the owner on a regular basis.
- It is considered to be a wrongful act if the owner does not provide sufficient food, drink, and shelter.
- Abandonment of animals
- Selling of animals that are suffering from pain caused due to mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding and other ill-treatments.
- Mutilation or killing of animals including stray dogs by using strychnine injections or other cruel methods.
- Using animals solely for the purpose of entertainment.
- Conducting fights between animals and collecting money from the spectators as entry fees.
- Organising shooting competitions that involves animals being released from captivity for people to shoot them down.
Most of the above offenses are termed as non-cognizable offences which means that the culprits can be arrested only after obtaining an arrest warrant from an officer.
Ban On Animal Testing Of Cosmetics
India proposed a nationwide ban on animal testing cosmetics in the year 2014. The ban was to stop cosmetic companies from using animals to test their products on. The chemicals in the cosmetic products harmed them and sometimes lead to death as well. Thus, the government introduced this ban and made it illegal to use chemicals on their skin or feed them lethal doses. This also included a ban on stray animals being used for the purpose of medical experiments which could lead to death. To report such acts, the nation has also launched a helpline.
There are multiple legislations and Acts being put in place by the law-makers in order to end animal cruelty in India. The government has taken some good steps to ensure fair treatment toward animals. India became the first South Asian country to ban the use of animals for experimenting cosmetic products on. India made progress in protecting animals used in scientific research.
Although there have been multiple improvements when it comes to India’s legislations on various animal protection acts, it is still not very effective. The punishments for the culprits who commit animal cruelty offences are not very severe which helps them get away with it easily. Different countries have adopted different laws for the protection of animals. Austria, Norway and Switzerland are some of the countries with the lowest animal cruelty rates. This is only because these countries have very strict laws in place when it comes to safeguarding the animals, be it wildlife or strays.
India needs better and stronger animal-protection laws to prevent cruelty. A fine of R.20 or Rs.50 is not enough if the government actually intends on protecting the animals. The legislations need desperate improvisation. There is a massive urge to implement the laws more effectively. The policies should be stricter with harsher penalties and punishments. The imprisonment for some of the offences should be prolonged. It is every citizen’s duty to treat animals with utmost care and affection. Laws govern human behaviour, thus in order to actually bring about a change in the way animals are being treated in India, it is important to change the law or at least execute it more efficiently.