Simply described, animal cruelty is the deliberate or neglectful harming of an animal. Animal cruelty occurs in a variety of circumstances and affects a diverse range of victims. Cases of animal maltreatment in India have been on the rise in recent years. According to a new survey, there are around 6.2 crore stray dogs and 91 lakh street cats in India, with 77% of the country’s population seeing a stray dog at least once a week. Millions of stray dogs and cats are abused, poisoned, slaughtered, and beaten on a basis, and these incidents are often ignored or overlooked. Even though India has certain animal protection and welfare legislation, these laws are rarely implemented. According to a report published by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO), a total of 4,93,910 animals were victims of human assault between 2010 and 2020.
Animal rights advocates strive to offer a moral and legal foundation for relationships that are based on mutual respect rather than commodification and exploitation. The animal rights movement’s goals include adopting animal personhood laws, prohibiting the use of animals in damaging and dangerous scientific studies, and no longer keeping animals imprisoned in circuses for amusement. Another goal of the animal rights movement is to promote veganism, which is a way of life that eliminates the consumption and usage of animals and animal products.
Current provisions related to Animal protection in India
- The Constitution of India
Under the Fundamental Duties and the Directive Principles of State Policy, the Indian Constitution establishes some animal rights. According to Article 51-A (g) of the Indian Constitution of 1950, it is a fundamental duty of every citizen to safeguard wildlife and have compassion for all living species. Furthermore, Article 48A imposes a duty on the state to maintain, safeguard, and improve the country’s forests and animals.
- Section 428 of IPC,1860
According to the act, anyone who causes any injury or mischief by killing or hurting any animal by any means, the worth of which is ten rupees or more, faces up to two years in prison and a fine, or both.
- Section 429 of IPC, 1872
Whoever causes harm by killing or wounding any elephant, camel, horse, mule, buffalo, ox, cow or bull, or any other animal by any means, the value of which may be fifty rupees or more, shall face imprisonment for a maximum of five years, a fine, or both.
- Section 154 of the Criminal Procedural Code
Under this section a person can register an FIR against cruelty to animals or protect animal rights at the nearest or local police station. The person under fault will be penalized according to whether the offense he committed is cognizable or non-cognizable.
Injuries to both trees and wild animals are forbidden by the following act. The list of wild animals includes all creatures, including mammals, birds, and reptiles. In the case of reptiles and birds, even their eggs are protected by this Act. The punishment for the first offence under this legislation is three years in prison or a fine of twenty-five thousand rupees, or both. The punishment for the second offense under this statute is seven years in prison and a fine of ten thousand rupees.
The following Act protects animals from cruelties such as killing, transportation, cruelty to a pet, or failing to provide an animal with the necessary living conditions, among other things. First-time offenders under the PCA Act face fines ranging from Rs 10 to Rs 50. If it is determined that this is not the offender’s first offence in the last three years, the maximum penalty is a fine of between Rs 25 and Rs 100, a three-month jail term, or both.
Animal Protection Laws around the world
According to the Animal Protection Index, Austria has been lauded as one of the top countries for animal welfare. The Austrian Animal Welfare Act of 2004 states that animal safety should be regarded as a value equal to people. With the exception of occasional hunting and fishing, this legislation forbids any unnecessary suffering of animals, as well as causing unwarranted pain and injury to animals. The act also applies to farm animals, with particular restrictions in place to safeguard them. Violators face fines of $2,420, and in cases of serious cruelty, they face fines of up to $18,160 and the seizure of their animals.
- United Kingdom
The Animal Welfare Act of 2006 is the primary animal welfare legislation in both Wales and England. This statute imposes severe penalties for both cruelty and neglect, including a lifetime ban from pet ownership, a possible 51-week jail term, and fines of up to £20,000. This act also requires pet owners to give their pets the minimum necessities they require.
Switzerland is regarded as the first country to constitutionally recognise animals, with a law guaranteeing the dignity of animals. Law prohibits activities that are considered insulting to the dignity of animals. The Swiss government is also one of the few, if not the only, countries that recognize some animals as social and hence require them to be maintained in pairs.
According to its penal code, Sweden punishes any cruelty to animals whether by negligence or with intent. Such safeguards apply to all animals, whether wild or domestic. The Swedish Welfare Act further states that animals must be safeguarded from diseases and unnecessary suffering, and well-treated. Other key features included in the statute include adequate space, food, care, and water. It also includes procedures to ensure that animals are anasthetized before slaughter
From poaching to ruthlessly capturing the animals in iron traps or ropes, abusing them, to cases of beating stray dogs or poisoning them, beating them to death, the existence of humanity is continuously called into question. According to animal rights activists, stray dogs are being intentionally run over by vehicles in large numbers. Some of the most heinous and gruesome animal cruelty atrocities are committed by people for a variety of twisted reasons, one of which is “it’s fun.” The most important thing that can be done to put an end to these barbaric acts is to teach youngsters to treat animals with kindness. Second, the Prevention of Cruelty Act must be amended because it is archaic and the penalties are insufficient in today’s world. There is a need for stricter animal protection regulations, as well as their effective implementation. Reports of animal cruelty must be treated seriously and offenders should be penalized. Furthermore, in order to curb the expanding number of stray dogs, the government should provide adequate sterilization, which is a humane way of reducing the number of canines on the streets while also helping to enhance the lives and health of those who remain. Frequent raids should be carried out against persons posing as shelter providers or “rescuers.” These shelter providers often fail to meet the physical and social needs of their animals, such as food, water, veterinary treatment, and sanitary living conditions. Owners who abandon their dogs when they are old or disabled should face strict penalties.
Indian laws are continuously being developed to safeguard animal rights, but unlike in other nations, our country’s animal laws are significantly less stringent, and as a result, many people get away with cruelty. It is critical that we use this as an opportunity, to learn about animal welfare laws around the world, particularly in some of the countries with the strongest restrictions, and what India can learn from these countries. Animals roaming the streets are a typical occurrence in India. Pets are given special care by their owners, whereas stray animals are disregarded and frequently mistreated. It is critical that humans recognize the value of all life and treat stray animals and pets equally.
Author(s) Name: Sreeya Sengupta (Institute of Law, Nirma University)