“The fundamental problem for animals is that our laws consider them things.”
– Stephen Wells.
This major problem has been resolved as in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, where, an “animal” means any living creature other than a human being. But we need to understand that writing a definition like this will not bring much change, we need to change our mindsets and we have to start treating animals as living beings and not just mere things. One of the most comprehensive sets of animal protection laws is there in India. In Article 51 of the Constitution of India, it is said that,
“It shall be the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.”
India is a country, which is rich in biodiversity and also consists of four biodiversity hotspots out of the 36 biodiversity hotspots present in the whole world. From Bengal Tigers to the Great Indian Rhinoceros, India has been a home to all the precious species of animals. From the past few years, India has taken a prominent position in animal welfare and protection. There was also a need to have animal laws as the animals were in danger, many animals have also got extinct and the main reason for the extinction of animals is the ugly monsters present in this world, the humans. We, not only exploit animals for our benefits but also kill them, poison them, rape them and whatnot. Just because these poor creatures are not able to speak or express their feelings, we have started to control them for our selfish motives, while ignoring the fact that they also have a life of their own, they also have emotions and they also feel pain.
That is why Animal Laws came into being. The main purpose of animal laws is to prevent the unnecessary pain and suffering of animals. All of the animals have the ability to suffer just in the same way as that humans. We, therefore, have no right to exploit them, kill them or tease them just for the sake of ourselves.
WHY ARE ANIMAL LAWS IMPORTANT?
In this beautiful world, animals also have the right to live peacefully, without any pain and suffering. We are not the only ones, who have rights to life and liberty, animals have the rights too. Just because we are at the top of the food chain that does not mean that we are the only important creatures in the ecosystem. A balanced ecosystem is the result of all the living beings and not just a particular level, all the living beings have a particular level and even if one level is disturbed, the whole of the ecosystem will get unbalanced. We are at the top of the triangle, because the base comprises of the animals and we know, how a triangle would be without any base but with only a top, it would be imbalanced.
As the inhabitants of this planet, it is our responsibility to ensure that all living beings, especially animals are protected and secured. Animal laws are important because there are so many animals all over the world, who are suffering from being used for food, medicine, entertainment, exotic pets, scientific advancements and much more. Animal laws ensure that animals are free from unnecessary pain or suffering or inhuman treatments. If the scenario will not change, the whole of the ecosystem would get imbalanced. We have to protect animals as they also have a right to live in this world.
LAWS RELATED TO ANIMALS IN INDIA
There are several animal laws in India for the protection of animals, here, we will discuss some Animal Protection Laws that every person needs to know: –
SECTION 11(1)(i) of PREVENTION OF CRUELTY TO ANIMALS ACT, 1960 – It says that abandoning an animal or leaving an animal into the situation that it suffers pain, even due to thirst or starvation, is a punishable offence.
SECTION 428 & 429 OF THE INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860 – It states that poisoning, killing, maiming or torturing an animal is a cognizable offence and rigorous imprisonment up to 2 years or fine or both can be the punishment for the same offence.
ANIMAL BIRTH CONTROL (DOGS) RULES, 2001 – In exercise of the powers conferred by the sub-section (1) & (2) of section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 the Central Government hereby makes the following rules. According to these rules, sterilized dogs cannot be relocated from their area. If the dog is not sterilized, an animal welfare organization can sterilize it but cannot relocate it and under section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, dogs can only be sterilized after attaining an age of at least 4 months.
SECTION 38J of THE WILDLIFE (PROTECTION) ACT, 1972 – Teasing, molesting, injuring, feeding or causing disturbance to any animal by noise or otherwise is an offence and is prohibited. The punishment of this offence is imprisonment of up to 3 years or a fine of up to Rs. 25,000 or both.
SECTION 16(c) of THE WILDLIFE (PROTECTION) ACT, 1972 – It also makes clear that it is unlawful to destroy or injure reptiles or wild birds, causing damage to their eggs or nests. Any person found guilty of doing that can be punished within imprisonment of 3 to 5 years and a fine of Rs 25,000.
SECTION 98 of THE TRANSPORT OF ANIMAL RULES, 1978 – Animals have to be in good condition and healthy while transporting. Any animal who is unfit, fatigued or has any disease should not be transported. Also, very young and pregnant animals should be transported separately.
Although a lot of specific and elaborated laws for the protection of animals have been passed in India, they are not often implemented properly. Only making new legislations will not make any difference unless the laws are implemented properly. We all need to realize the fact that animals are not things made for our selfish motives, but are living beings who have equal rights to live peacefully on this planet.
Author(s) Name: Sehaj Sarin (Student, Jammu University)
 The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, § 2, No. 59, Acts of Parliament, 1960 (India).
 India Const., art. 51.
 Ekta Maheshwari, 4 Biodiversity Hotspots in India: Excellent Places to Relish Pure Adventure, Travel Triangle Blog, (May 26, 2021, 9:29 PM), https://traveltriangle.com/blog/biodiversity-hotspots-in-india/.