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ANIMAL CRUELTY AND THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK

ANIMAL CRUELTY AND THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK

INTRODUCTION

The only situation that pops into our head when we think about animal rights and their security is that of their poaching or their abuse sheerly for the sake of entertainment. Animal cruelty refers to any pattern of behaviour that jeopardizes the welfare or life of animals. In India, it is no rare sight to see a stray animal being beaten or stones being pelted at them. We see cows being let out in the open to fend for themselves after their lactation period has ended. They are just a few, mere instances amongst a plethora of several others.

The prime cause of concern remains; animal mistreatment is rarely visible to the human eye. It takes place in a clandestine fashion and on industrial farms that are not accessible to the general population. We can act as if something doesn’t exist extensively when we don’t witness it happening.

INCIDENTS IN INDIA INVOLVING ANIMAL ABUSE

Instances of animal cruelty in India have unfortunately become very prosaic. However, there have been some extreme cases of brutality which shocked the nation to its core. Some of them are mentioned below:

  1. In the Palakkad district of Kerala, a pregnant elephant was fed a pineapple stuffed with explosives allegedly by some locals in the year 2020. The wailing elephant walked all the way to a river and stood in the water for hours with her fractured jaw and her harmed tongue trying to alleviate her pain.[1]
  2. Jallikattu is a sport involving bulls and it is conducted as a part of the festival of Pongal. June 2022 highlighted a terrible incident in which a Jallikattu bull was reportedly beaten to death by three drunken men in the Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu.[2]
  3. On July 4, 2020, a 55-year-old man entered a dairy in Bhopal and engaged in unnatural intercourse with a cow in a gruesome act of animal cruelty. The police said the man was apprehended after authorities reviewed the security video from the location.[3]

POSITION OF ANIMAL RIGHTS IN THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

There are numerous provisions which enable the State to make laws regarding the same. To shed light on a few;                                                                                                                                                              

  • Article 48-A:

This article is enshrined under the Directive Principles of the State Policy. It imposes duties on State to protect and improve the environment, preserve as well as safeguard the forests and wildlife.

 

  • Article 51-A (G):

This article imposes a duty on each citizen “to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.”

We are aware that every Indian citizen has certain fundamental rights outlined in Part III of the Indian Constitution, regardless of caste, creed, colour, ethnicity or religion. Now, an essential query comes to our minds when animal rights and the provisions of the Indian Constitution are mentioned together and that is, ‘what rights do animals have when living in this country alongside its people?’

In the case of Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja & Ors the Supreme Court expanded the reach of Article 21 of the Constitution, which concerns the fundamental right to life and personal liberty, by including some animal rights. The court also declared that Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution is the “Magna Carta of animal rights,” and made a number of remarks to safeguard animals’ life.[4]

STATUTORY PROVISIONS FOR THE PROTECTION OF ANIMALS

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960:

This Act was adopted by the Parliament in 1960 to save animals from suffering or pain. The phrase “animal” refers to any living thing other than a person. The creation of a regulatory body to support and uphold the Act is described in Chapter II of the Act[5]. The Indian government created the “Animal Welfare Board of India” in 1962 in compliance with the law, establishing it’s authority and responsibility. This Act was effective in defining what constituted animal cruelty, outlining the rules for doing experiments on them and codifying the laws governing the use of performing animals in public.

ROLE OF THE BOARD:

Section 9[6] of the Act defines the functions of the Board. Some of them are:

  1. It advises the Government on various aspects related to the prevention of unnecessary pain endured by animals during numerous activities involving them.
  2. Advising the government on rules and medical standards for animal hospitals.
  3. It spreads knowledge and awareness about treating animals humanely.

HAS THIS ACT BROUGHT ABOUT ANY CHANGES?

Animal abuse was made a crime for the first time in India by this Act. Chapter IV set up a statutory body called “The Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA)” to make sure that animals are not prone to undue and excessive pain while being used for research.[7] General guidelines for raising and employing animals in research are outlined in the “Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1998”.

In 2013, India has outlawed using live animals in medical research and teaching. 2014 saw India become the first nation in Asia to outlaw both the importation of cosmetics that have undergone animal testing as well as all cosmetic experimentation on animals.[8] In 2013, India prohibited the usage of captive dolphins for public entertainment, becoming only the 4th country in the world to do so.[9]

On “The World Animal Protection Index”, which ranks countries on a scale of A(highest score) to G(lowest score), India received a C.[10]

Thus, the enactment of the act  has indeed brought about significant positive changes. However, like other legislations in this country, the effects of this Act fail to get trickled down to cover all the strata related to animal welfare. The authorities make use of loopholes in the system and continue with their malpractices of exploiting animals.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972:

The law establishes a foundation for:

  1. The ban on hunting
  2. Management and Protection of Wildlife Habitats
  3. Regulation and Control of Trade in Wildlife-Related Parts and Products

Although the “Wildlife (Protection) Act” of 1972 contains solid provisions, there has been a delay in execution, which causes traffickers, poachers, hunters, and even those from the black market to disregard the law. However, the punishment for offences against animals under this legislation has been tightened up and this has proved to be advantageous.[11]

Cosmetics Rules, 2020:

The Central Government updated the “Drugs and Cosmetic Rules, 1945” to ensure that only generic pharmaceuticals are prescribed by licensed medical practitioners. Furthermore, a crucial component of the existing guidelines is that any animal suffering cannot be justified by the possible advantages of cutting-edge novel cosmetics.[12]

CONCLUSION

Laws have been formulated with a view to safeguarding the animals; both domestic and wild, However, cruelty against animals is still prevalent and it continues to thrive behind closed doors and on silent streets for sadistic entertainment or on the widescale level for commercial gains. There are also a number of anomalies present in this presumed notion that animal cruelty is always deliberate. There can occur so many other factors which could significantly cause the animals to suffer. For example: it may occur for economic reasons that the owner is unable to address. When a person owns a pet but cannot afford the veterinarian care, they are rendered helpless and the potential for cruelty would be beyond their control to handle.  The Prevention of Animal Cruelty Act was modified and renamed the Indian Animal Welfare Act in 2011 as a consequence of the requirement to amend the current law. However, the laws by themselves are inadequate to protect animals from the brutality humans. It won’t happen unless we come to value and respect both human and animal life alike. The suffering of animals should stir up the fundamentally human nature of compassion within us. It is only then we would be able to implement the laws meant for their protection.

Author(s) Name: Mrinalini (National Law University, Odisha)

References:

[1] ‘Brutal Animal Abuse: Pregnant Elephant Dies after Locals in Kerala Feed Her Cracker-Stuffed Pineapple’ (Times Now News, 04 June 2020) <https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/article/brutal-animal-abuse-pregnant-elephant-dies-after-locals-in-kerala-feed-her-cracker-stuffed-pineapple/600656&gt> accessed 10 December 2022

[2] ‘Jallikattu Bull Dies Painful Death at Hands of Three Drunk Men in Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri District’ (India, 12 June 2020) <https://www.india.com/viral/jallikattu-bull-dies-painful-death-at-hands-of-three-drunk-men-in-tamil-nadus-krishnagiri-district-4056303/&gt> accessed 11 December 2022

[3] ‘Animal Cruelty: 55-Year-Old Man Arrested for Raping Cow in Madhya Pradesh’ (Times Now, 08 July 2020) <https://www.timesnownews.com/mirror-now/in-focus/article/animal-cruelty-55-year-old-man-arrested-for-raping-cow-in-madhya-pradesh/618003>  accessed 11 December 2022

[4] Animal Welfare Board of India v A. Nagaraja & Ors (2014) SCC OnLine SC 433

[5]Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, ch II

[6] Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, s 9

[7] The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, s 15(1)

[8]Aarti Dhar, ‘India Bans Testing of Cosmetics on Animals’ (The Hindu, 28 June 2013) <https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/india-bans-testing-of-cosmetics-on-animals/article4860969.ece>  accessed 12 December 2022

[9] Saroja Coelho, ‘Dolphin Protection’ (DW, 24 May 2013) <https://www.dw.com/en/dolphins-gain-unprecedented-protection-in-india/a-16834519#:~:text=Indiais%20the%20fourth%20country%20in%20the%20world%20to,Hungary%2C%20and%20Chile.%20Dolphins%20are%20persons%2C%20not%20performers>  accessed 12 December 2022

[10] ‘Republic Of India’ (World Animal Protection) <https://api.worldanimalprotection.org/>  accessed 12 December 2022

[11] Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

[12] Cosmetics Rules, 2020