Not many of us are aware that Indian law has special provisions for the welfare and safety of animals in India. In fact, Article 51A(g) in the Constitution of India 1949 states that it is the fundamental duty of every citizen of India to have compassion for all living creatures. Not just this, taking part in or being involved in the organization of an animal fight is a recognized offence. Capturing, trapping, poisoning or baiting of any wild animal is punishable by law, with a fine up to Rs. 25000 or imprisonment up to 7 years or both. These words may catch you off- guard especially since we all are audience to the liberal amounts of cruelty inflicted on animals across the country today; but it is true that our lawmakers have given due consideration to animals with respect to Indian law in order to safeguard their welfare.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 (PCA)
This particular Act was passed in the Parliament in order to prevent cruelty towards animals in the country. With compassion towards animals and the knowledge of their suffering, these rules and laws were put together in good measure. The Animal Welfare Board of India was formed by the government of India as per the provisions of this Act. Under various sections of this Act, acts of maiming, killing, violence, confinement and other such acts of harassment have been declared illegal and amount to standardized punishments.
Awareness of the law helps propagate a better implementation of the same. So here we list 7 animal rights (fundamental to their existence) that every Indian citizen should be aware of to prevent animal abuse and cruelty in India. Do keep in mind that this is separate from the genre of animal preservation in the country.
Right to Health and Safety
Animals in India have a right to life and good health. If any Indian citizen is guilty of mischief that kills or maims any animal(s), including stray animal(s), s/he shall be fined and/or punished under Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code.
Right to Appropriation
As per Section 11(1) (i) and Section 11 (1) (j), PCA Act, 1960, abandonment of any animal can lead up to three months or more in prison. No excuse or reason for the same is taken into consideration.
Right to Food, Freedom, and Shelter
An individual who is guilty of neglect of an animal is considered to be an offender as per animal rights in India. According to Section 11(1) (h), PCA Act, 1960, denying an animal sufficient food, water, and proper shelter is unlawful. This right covers animals’ need for freedom too. Keeping the animal(s) chained or confined for long hours is punishable by fine and/or imprisonment up to 3 months.
Right against Misuse/ Exploitation
Of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 1960, Section 22(ii) states a restriction on exhibition of performing animals. It specifies that no person shall exhibit or train any performing animal (bears, lions, tigers, monkeys, bulls etc.) unless it is registered in accordance with the provisions of the Government. Central Government officially specifies certain animals which shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animals. They cannot be employed by any individual for such purposes. Failure to comply with this law shall render the individual liable for punishment.
Right to Life
Animal sacrifice is considered illegal in the country (Rule 3, Slaughter House Rules, 2001). Assam and Bengal are exceptions to this law, and so are goats and sheep exclusively on the festival of Bakri-Eid. Further, Section 3(i) of this law states that ‘animals cannot be slaughtered except in a recognized and licensed slaughter houses’, while Section 3(ii) forbids slaughtering of any animal which is- pregnant/ has an offspring less than three months/ is itself less than three months old/ is uncertified by a veterinary doctor as unfit for consumption.
Right against Animal Testing
Animal testing is probably one of the most controversial and hotly debated topics. Animal testing refers to procedures performed on living animals (such as mice, rabbits, sheep, dogs etc.) for purposes of research in biological sciences, medicinal science, or testing of cosmetics and other industry products. These procedures have the potential to cause damage and suffering in physical and psychological terms. Some may even result in the death of the animal used. Indian law observes a firm stand on this aspect. Any cosmetic company which carries out animal testing is liable to face action as per provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and the Animal Cruelty Act. Violation of the said Act by an individual or an organization may result in imprisonment of 3- 10 years and/or a fine that ranges between Rs. 500 and Rs. 10,000.
Right to Quietude in Place of Habitat
Section 38J in The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 prohibits any kind of trouble to be imparted to the animals in a zoo as well as any littering of the zoo grounds. It states that no animal shall be disturbed in any manner. If an individual teases, harms, feeds or disturbs any animal(s) in a zoo, s/he is likely to face a punishment in the form of a fine of Rs. 25,000 or imprisonment of up to 3 years or both.
In this world, we humans share Mother Earth with thousands of other. Our self- imposed superiority on this planet provides us with privileges and certain prerogatives. At the same time, we must take on the responsibility to save, protect and respect the existence of other living beings around us. Caring for animals and abiding by the animal laws of our country will not only make us good citizens, but also good humans. After all, what is the difference between animals and humans if we are unable to understand the depth and complexity of the environment? We have the power to do something about it, and we must.