India since the ancient times has been a country where animals are not only treated with respect, but they are worshipped. Whether it’s Cow, tiger, lion, snake or elephant Our Hindu Mythology has taught us to worship them all.
Mahatma Gandhi said: “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. I hold that the more helpless a creature the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of humankind”.
But the recent cases of animal cruelty like killing of a pregnant elephant from Kerala, a pregnant cow from Himachal Pradesh, and a jackal from Tamil Nadu has raised some serious questions about our progress as human beings and as a country. The alarming rise in these cases also questions the sufficiency of various laws that we have in our country. These incidents force us to ask ourselves that Why? Why even after all these age-old traditions and teachings nowadays, we see disturbing cases of animals being subjected to cruelty? It happens in various ways such as for experiment purposes, entertainment purposes, for satisfying one’s hunger or torturing them just for the fun of it and feel powerful. We love feeling Powerful, don’t we? But how? How can we feel Powerful? The easiest way for a coward person to feel powerful is through exploiting someone weaker than them and who better than these voiceless creatures. So, these animals become the easiest target for some careless and insensitive people to satisfy their ego. And this urge to be in power along with other reasons becomes one of the most important reason to inflict harm on these innocent creatures. Now when we know the reason, what is the solution. Laws? But do we have enough laws? Let’s look at the laws we have against animal cruelty in India and figure out ourselves, that do we lack laws or their effective implementation?
First and foremost, we should be aware that what counts as animal cruelty. What does it exactly mean?
Cruelty towards Animals means animal abuse that is deliberately inflicted upon animals by human beings for any gain.
Now the first law that comes to our mind regarding animal cruelty is The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA). This is one of the most prominent Animal Cruelty Law in our country which was legislated in 1960 and it has never been amended since. Even after the enforcement of PCA, there have been a horrific rise in the cases. One of the most glorified case of animal cruelty is Jallikattu event that is being organized in Tamil Nadu. During Jallikattu, participants mentally and physically torture bulls and endanger the lives of animals and humans. These rise in cases tells us that even though we have law, but we do require a strict implementation of them. Maybe it’s time to amend the PCA act. There are several other laws also to protect animals such as Article 48A and 51A(g) of the Constitution of India, Section 428 and 429 of Indian Penal Code but most important laws are Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) 1960 and Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
Section 11 of PCA is the main section which punishes incidents of cruelty by listing specific offenses. It renders beating, kicking, over riding, over driving, over loading, torturing, which causes unnecessary pain or suffering to any animal, and many other offenses punishable. Subjection of an animal to any of such acts, specified under 11(1)(a) to (o) of the Act, makes the offender (in the case of first offense) liable to pay a fine that may extend to only 50 rupees. In the case of a second offence or a subsequent offence committed within three years of the previous offence, the offender shall be made to pay a fine of not less then 35 rupees, the quantum of which may also extend to 100 rupees or the offender maybe imprisoned for a term which may extend to three months, or with both.
THE WILDLIFE PROTECTION ACT, 1972:
This is act is meant for the protection of wild animals and birds. The various provisions are-
- It prohibits the sacrifice of animals, section 39 of the act prohibits any injury to the animals and the penalty is mentioned in section 51 of the act.
- Keeping any Indian bird is banned under the act. If anybody wishes to keep a permissible bird, he has to comply with Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to the Animals Act, 1956.
- Section 50 of the Act authorizes any police officer to arrest any person without a warrant.
- Monkeys cannot display or owned and are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act as well.
The Acts discussed above are some of the major laws that we have. So, we can say that it is not that we lack laws but a good execution of them. There’s no reason why we should keep on enforcing new laws while we are not even implementing and following the existing ones. I do believe that there are some loopholes that needs an immediate improvement such as the amount of fine or compensation that is imposed under PCA is very minimal. Also, the sentence of imprisonment is very low. These reasons are sufficient enough to understand that even if we have laws, there is much to be done and the first step can be amending PCA and making stricter laws. It is the need of the hour. Over the years, the amendment bills to the PCA have been introduced but unfortunately none of these bills have been passed in parliament. This is the time to pass these Bills and execute them properly.
We as a country are undoubtedly progressing but there is still a long way to go. Animal Cruelty prevention laws is one such area where we need to focus more. But government alone can’t do everything. We as citizens have to start taking responsibility. We should stop pointing fingers at others and start changing ourselves. Remember, Change begins from within. Start questioning yourself. Speak up if you see someone on the road hurting stray animals. Try to feed the animals whenever you can. The Animal Welfare Board of India issues IDs for people who feed stray animals. Become a responsible and aware citizen. Stop depending on government for everything. Don’t disrespect the old age wisdom of worshipping animals that our elders have left us with. Respect animals. Laws are there just better execution, amendments and moreover, honestly following these laws can change everything. Be more compassionate and sensitive towards the lives around you. We as citizens should start spreading awareness against animal cruelty and educate more and more people about this crime that is committed on daily basis. The least we can do is not sit quiet. So, I demand all of us to please, please RAISE OUR VOICES.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 – www.indiacode.nic.in
The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Act No. 45 Year 1860) ¹ – www.advocatekhoj.com
The Constitution of India (As on 1st April 2019) – www.legislative.gov.in
 The Jallikattu Case, 2014
 The Constitution of India, bare act
 The Indian Penal Code, 1860
 The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
 The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
 The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960