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Since ancient times, animals were given due importance in society as they were the backbone of hunter-gatherers and later agrarian economies. Be it food, clothing or work they played a vital role in society. For instance, dogs were the first to be domesticated by humans, as evident from Neolithic

He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.

– Immanuel Kant


Since ancient times, animals were given due importance in society as they were the backbone of hunter-gatherers and later agrarian economies. Be it food, clothing or work they played a vital role in society. For instance, dogs were the first to be domesticated by humans, as evident from Neolithic site of Burzahom in Kashmir. The Bhimbetka caves, predating to the upper Paleolithic period and up to the Neolithic times, have graphic paintings of animals, in a realistic style. Interestingly, humans are only depicted symbolically in the paintings. In modern times, animals in India often find themselves in torn between the fight of Modernity and Indian culture[1]. On one hand, people worship them on occasions, on the other they exploit them for trade and commerce. To ensure animal safety and promote animal welfare GOI came with the Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act, 1960[2] followed by the setting up of the Animal Welfare Board in 1962.

In the year 2000, the High court of Kerala gave a thought on the question of expanding Fundamental rights to Animals. They felt the need of dismantling the wall between humans and non-humans (animals) in the case of N.R. Nair v. Union of India [3]. In the past few years, we have witnessed crimes committed against them were heart-wrenching, Article 21 Right to life expands to animals also still people are in the delusion that Just because they stand on Two, they are superior to those who walk on Four.

Animal Laws in India

After the 1960s PCA act, to enlarge the ambit of law and to extend protection to the wildlife, another law, namely the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 was enacted[4] (Maneka Gandhi, 2011). Under sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860[5]  cruelty against animals is a punishable offence. Stray animals cannot be used for research purposes. Under section 11 of the PCA Act, 1960 it is illegal to give any injurious substance or to put out poisoned food to animals. There are laws against animal abuse and animal cruelty in India but they are not strict in nature, also people are not taking it seriously and there is lack of awareness too among population.

Landmark Judgements

  • People for the ethical treatment of Animals v. Union of India[6]

In 2006, Bombay High court in a judgement ruled that a certificate from the Animal welfare board of India is mandatory for film producers/directors if they wish to film animals stating that the provisions of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001 have been duly met.

  • State of U.P v. Mustakeem and Ors.[7]

In 2002, the Supreme court directed that the custody of animals shall not be given to owners in cases of cruelty till the conclusion of a trial. They’ll be kept in the nearest gaushalas or pinjrapole under the care of State governments.

  • R. Nair & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.

In 2000, Kerala high court ruled that the animals like elephants, bulls, monkeys, lions, etc. shall not be used for entertainment purposes. They stated that the animals are put under strict training and suffer cruelty which contravenes the provisions of the PCA Act, 1960.

  • Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja & Ors.[8]

In 2014, the supreme court in a judgement banned Bulls from any sports, performances the judgement was about Jallikattu, the age-old tradition of bull racing in Karnataka. In the same judgement, SC also gave the concept of five freedoms to animals i.e. freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain/injuries, freedom to express normal behavior and freedom from fear and distress.

All these judgements in some or the other way helped animals to alleviate their sufferings to some extent. But at the same time, one needs to understand, that it is not just the duty of the government or judiciary alone. We as citizens need to realize, it is our moral as well as fundamental duty to prevent these creatures from abuse.

Recent Instances

  1. Pregnant goat dies after being gang-raped by 8 men in Haryana[9].
  2. Over 50 monkeys poisoned and dumped in sacks on roadside in Karnataka, 36 died.[10]
  3. Pregnant elephant dies after eating cracker-filled fruit(pineapple).[11]
  4. Dog raped inside shopping complex in Mumbai.[12]
  5. In Mumbai stray dog tied to vehicle, dragged along till it died?

These heart-throbbing incidents are few among lakhs of cases that are being registered annually. Reality could be more alarming as many cases remain unnoticed. Animals do have thought processes, emotions, and social connections that are as important to them as they are to us[13] (Safina, 2015). As numerous researches have highlighted, psychologists view it as a sadistic tendency that derives ‘pleasure from pain’ of others. This tendency, if left unchecked can prove detrimental for the society.


It will be a huge failure on the part of the humans, if the same treatment continues to be meted out to animals. This unjustifiable brutality against speechless creatures needs to stop. At the same time, it is imperative upon us to broaden the concept of ‘society’- to include not only humans but animals and other creatures as well.

India is a culturally diverse country. On one hand, we see people offering animal sacrifices to gods (be it Allah or Durga) on various occasions. Whereas, on the other hand, we can derive inspiration from the Jain Tirthankars who preached non-violence thousands of years ago. In India animals are revered across religions and worshipped by the majority of the population but love and care for them are confined to favourite pets only[14]. The Constitution of India under Article 48(Directive Principles of State Policy), directs the State to ensure safety and protection of the cattle by banning animal slaughtering of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.  We have a variety of laws enacted for animals in India. But their faulty implementation has ensured that they remain on papers.

Offenders are roaming on streets without fear. Justice is being served in the cases which become highlighted on social media through viral videos (Kerela Elephant Death), while many cases are unfortunate enough to go unnoticed, so that they virtually remain nonexistent. The above stated heinous instances against animals necessitate the need for urgent reforms in Animal laws (PCA act). Indian government is planning to draft a bill increasing penalties for offenders of cruelty against animals, likely in the next parliament session.[15]. All we can do is hope for the best.

Author(s) Name: Deepti Dwivedi (University of Allahabad)


[1] Jassemine Mathew & Ira Chadha, Granting Animals Rights under the Constitution: A Misplaced Approach? An Analysis In Light Of Animal Welfare Board Of India v. A. Nagaraja (7th edn., NUJS Law Review 2014) 349.

[2] Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960

[3] N.R. Nair v. Union of India, AIR 2000 Ker. 340

[4] Ali Mehdi, Review of ANIMAL LAWS OF INDIA (4th edn.) (2012) 54 (4) Journal of the Indian Law Institute <> accessed 4 Oct 2021

[5] Indian Penal code,1860 s 428, s 429

[6] PETA v Union of India, 2006 writ petition (PIL) (lodging) No. 2490 of 2004

[7] State of U.P v Mustakeem and Ors., (2002) Criminal Appeal No. 283-287/2002

[8] Animal Welfare Board of India v A. Nagaraja & Ors 2014 7 SCC 547

[9] Leena Dharkar, ‘Pregnant goat dies after being gang-raped by 8 men in Haryana’ (Hindustan Times Gurugram, 29 July 2008) <> accessed 4 October 2021

[10]Uday kumar and Bosky Khanna, ‘Over 50 monkeys poisoned and dumped in sacks on roadside in Karnataka, 36 die’ (The New Indian Express Bengaluru, 29 July 2021) <> accessed 4 October 2021

[11] The Hindu Net Desk, ‘Pregnant elephant dies after eating cracker-filled fruit’ (The Hindu Chennai, 04 June 2020) <> accessed 4 October 2021

[12] Vijay Singh, ‘Dog raped inside shopping complex in Mumbai’ (Times of India Mumbai, 24 Oct 2020) <> accessed 4 October 2021

[13] Carl Safina, Beyond words: What animals think and feel (Henry Holt and Co., 2015)

[14] Supra Note 4.

[15] Press trust of India, ‘Government plans to slap higher penalty for cruelty against animals; draft bill likely in next Parliament session’ (The Hindu New Delhi, 04 Oct 2021) <> accessed on 4 October 2021

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