-By Manan Daga*
Animals are living beings who enter this world for their own purpose. They are the creatures filled with love, kindness, and loyalty, but are at a loss of speech. This does not mean that they cannot feel emotions like us. Hence, there are several laws in India for the protection of animals. In the current times, people seem to be ignorant of those laws and we have witnessed many instances of animal cruelty. Recently, a pregnant elephant died upon being fed a pineapple laced with crackers. In another instance, a pregnant dog named April was beaten to death. And in yet another instance, a man was arrested for raping a cow. Hence, the need of the hour is to increase awareness about such laws so that they may act as a deterrent.
There are some specific laws like the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and some provisions in general laws like the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) which lay down rules for protection of animals. In this article, these and other provisions and rules are discussed in detail.
Primarily, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 is a crucial statute that has been enacted for the protection of such innocent and mute creatures. An essential provision under this Act is Section 11. This provision covers an extensive list of fifteen offenses against animals. For instance, this provision punishes anyone who unnecessarily tortures or causes pain to an animal, or administers injurious substances like drugs, or fails to provide food or shelter despite being the owner of the animal among other things. However, the punishment for this offence is merely a fine between ten to fifty rupees for the first instance of offence. For the second instance committed within three years of the last offence, the punishment is a fine between twenty-five to hundred rupees; or up-to three months imprisonment; or both. Evidently, the punishment for such offenses is relatively miniscule and needs to be made more severe so as to serve as a deterrence. Another relevant provision is Section 22 (ii). It prohibits tigers, bears, lions, monkeys, panthers, and bulls from being trained and used for entertainment purposes.
Another vital legislation for the protection of animals is the Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972. It is an elaborate statute covering the preservation of forests and wildlife, illegal trade, and commerce in wild animals and other articles. A salient provision of this Act is Section 51, which elaborates on the penalties in case of offences committed under this Act. Section 9 prohibits hunting of wild animals. However, this is subject to Section 11 and 12 of the Act, which allows hunting only under certain conditions. The punishment for the offence in Section 9 is imprisonment between three to seven years, and a fine more than ten thousand rupees on the first instance. In the case of second and further instances, punishment is imprisonment between three to seven years and a fine more than twenty-five thousand rupees. Additionally, Section 38J of this Act prohibits teasing, molesting, injuring, feeding or causing disturbance to animals in the zoo. It is punishable with imprisonment up-to six months; or a fine up-to two thousand rupees; or both in case of the first instance. In the case of second and further instances, it is punishable with imprisonment up-to one year; or a fine up-to five thousand rupees; or both. Moreover, Chapter V and VA talk about trade and commerce of wild animals, animal articles, etc.
Indian Penal Code, 1860 has a couple of provisions protecting the animals. Section 428 of IPC punishes anyone who kills, poisons, maims, or renders useless any animal of the value of ten rupees or more. It is a bailable offence punishable with imprisonment up-to two years, or a fine, or both. Section 429 of IPC is a targeted provision. It prohibits killing, poisoning, maiming, or rendering useless of any elephant, horse, camel, buffalo, mule, cow, bull, or ox; or any other animal of value fifty rupees or more. It is a bailable offence punishable with imprisonment up-to five years, or a fine, or both. It has been held by the apex court that before invoking Section 429 of IPC, it is indispensable to prove that Section 425 (the provision dealing with mischief) is also applicable to the case. If Section 425 cannot be applicable to the case, then Section 429 will not be applicable either. Moreover, as per Johri v. State of Rajasthan,AIR 1970 Raj 203, it is essential to prove the required intention on the part of the accused to cause wrongful loss, for convicting him/her under Section 429. Apart from these provisions, Section 377 of the IPC can be invoked for voluntary sexual intercourse with an animal. In Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, (2018) 1 SCC 791, Section 377 had been decriminalized to the extent that it was applicable on homosexuality but is still a good law against voluntary sexual intercourse with an animal. It is a non-bailable offence punishable with either life imprisonment or up-to ten years, and fine.
The Constitution of India, 1950, lays down a fundamental duty to protect and improve wildlife, and have compassion for living creatures under Article 51(A)(g). There is a Directive Principle of State Policy stating for the preservation of cattle, and prohibition of slaughter of cow, calves, other milch and draught cattle under Article 48. Further, Article 48A talk about safeguarding wildlife. As per State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab Jamat, (2005) 8 SCC 534, Article 51(A)(g) in its broader sense covers the category of cattle spoken in Article 48.
There are some drafted rules which have been implemented for the protection of animals in various situations. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (Slaughterhouse) Rules, 2001 provide different rules in case of slaughtering of animals. Rule 3 under this mandates that animals can be slaughtered only in licensed slaughter-houses, and nowhere else. Also, animals who are pregnant, or younger than three months, or have an offspring younger than three months, or are sick and not certified to be slaughtered by a veterinarian, shall not be slaughtered. Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001 govern rules for animals who are performing in a place where entry is granted by tickets, like a circus. It mandates the trainer to apply for a certification for registration, animal fitness and ownership. The Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1998 (amended in 2001 and 2006) elaborate on the regulation of experiments which uses animals. These rules have been formulated by the Committee for the Purpose of the Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals. Lastly, the Transport of Animals, Rules, 1978 prescribe the rules for transporting cats, dogs, monkeys, cattle, equines, goats, pigs, and sheep. It elaborates on transportation container’s fittings, and provisions for shelter, food, water, etc. It mandates a valid certificate from a veterinarian holding the animals to be fit for transportation through rail or road or air.
These are some of the provisions for the protection of animals against cruelty in India. However, the punishment must be made more strict in some provisions like the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The punishment, in some cases, can be a minimum of ten rupees and a maximum of hundred rupees, or three months imprisonment. Similarly, in Section 428 of IPC, the maximum punishment is two years imprisonment.Along with stricter laws, it is suggested that the offences under Section 428 and 429 of IPC should be made non-bailable.
Lastly, animal protection laws should be publicized which will spread awareness of the same among the people. This awareness will lead to people knowing about the punishment or sanctions that can be imposed on them. For the remainder, the aforesaid measures can be supplemented with a separate Animal Protection Body which works only towards prevention of crimes against animals. This body may consist of animal rights activists, lawyers or legal officers, veterinarians, and administrative officers. This can go a long way in ensuring animal safety.
The author* is a 3rd year student at West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata (WBNUJS).