The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It lays down the fundamental code, anima rights and duties of citizens. The directive principles of state policy, procedures, structures and powers of governmental institutions is also encapsulated in it. It is widely regarded to be a “living document”. It is the longest written constitution in any country on earth and is divided into 395 articles (demarcated into 22 parts) and 12 schedules.
The Indian Constitution recognizes the sanctity of animal life. lays down the protection and treatment of animals with dignity as a fundamental duty of its citizens. The Constitutional Framework of animal protection in India is encompassed in the following parts:
- Fundamental Rights (Part III)
- Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV)
- Fundamental Duties (Part IV-A)
- Allocation of powers between the Union and the States (the 7th Schedule) (discussed further in Overview of Animal Laws)
- Judicial Authority of Courts (Articles 141 and 144)
Everyone’s aware of the brutality that humans inflict upon animals. Recently, in an unfortunate incident, a dog named Bruno was treated inhumanely. The same was met with a worldwide virtual protest. However, this is not the first incident but one among the many, which often go unreported.
Despite legislation and rules against animal cruelty, India constantly witnesses unnatural deaths of animals across the country.
The legislations for animal welfare
The most crucial and important law is provided as under
- The Prevention of Cruelty Act, 1960
The Act’s objective is to prevent the infliction of pain or suffering on animals and amend the laws related to the prevention of cruelty to animals. The word ‘animal’ is defined as ‘any living creature other than a human being’. The AWBI performs the following functions:
- advise the central government regarding amendments and rules to prevent unnecessary pain while storing animals for experiments, transporting animals, etc.
- encourage financial assistance, animal shelters, and rescue homes for old animals.
- advise the government on medical care and assistance for animal hospitals.
- Imparting education and awareness on animal welfare using books, lectures, posters, advertisements.
- advise the central government regarding the general matters on animal welfare.
Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty Act, provides different variants of cruelty to animals that are:
- Beating, kicking, overloading, torturing and causing unnecessary injury, harm to any animal;
- Administered any injurious drug or substance wilfully or unreasonably to any animal;
- Conveying or carrying either in or upon any vehicle in such a way as to subject it to suffering;
- Confining any animal in any cage or receptacle which does not measure property in height, length, and breadth to permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for move;
- Keeping an animal for an unreasonable time in any heavy chained or chord;
- Being an owner fails to provide the animal with sufficient food, water, and shelter;
- Abandoning an animal without any reasonable care;
- Wilfully permitting an owned animal to roam on streets or leaving it on the streets to die of disease or disability;
- Offering an animal for sale which is suffering from pain due to mutilation, starvation, thirst, or other ill-treatment without any reasonable cause;
- Mutilated or killing any animal by using the methods of strychnine injections;
- Using an animal as bait for another animal solely for entertainment;
- Organizing, keeping, or managing any place for animal fighting;
However, the Act does not consider cruelty on animals if-
- Dehorning of cattle, castration, or branding of any animal done in a prescribed manner
- Destruction of stray dogs in lethal chambers done in a prescribed manner
- Extermination or destruction of any animal under the authority of any law
If a person committing any acts as mentioned in Section 11 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act,1960 shall be punishable,
- In case of a first offense, with a fine which shall not be less than ten rupees but which may extend to fifty rupees, and
- In case of a subsequent offense committed within 3 years of the previous offense, with a fine which shall not be less than twenty-five rupees but which may extend to, one hundred rupees with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or both.
Are Animals Laws Effective Enough In Protecting And Safeguarding Animal Rights?
According to the report published by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) and All Creatures Great and Small (ACGS), between 2010 and 2020, a total of 4 93,910 animals are exposed to cruelty by humans.
The cruelty inflicted upon animals includes sexual abuse and hurting the private parts of female animals. Stray animals are the major victim of these crimes.
The audacity to inflict pain comes from the unawareness. People are not aware that their action is an offence. The cruelty is often trivialised.
Additionally, the penalities imposed for the animal cruelty is pint sized. For instance, a first-time offender for animal cruelty is punished with a fine which ranges from Rs.10 to Rs.50.
In many cases, laws protecting animals don’t adequately cover the extent of crime, making animals easy prey for humans’ merciless behaviour. Thus, the main cause of increasing animal cruelty in India is the legislative lacunae.
In an 86-pages verdict, Justice J R Midha commented that “community dogs (stray/street dogs) have the right to food and citizens have the right to feed community dogs but in exercising this right, care and caution should be taken to ensure that it does not impinge upon the rights of others or cause any harm, hindrance, harassment and nuisance to other individuals or members of the society”.
The government has the imperative capacity to discipline all sorts of offences. Notwithstanding, such a large number of laws the drive will just com when individuals come together with every living being’s entitlement to life.