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ANIMAL PROTECTION LAWS IN INDIA- A CRITICAL APPRAISAL

Updated: Feb 20, 2022

Written By - Varunendra Pandey


“Of Horses I am Uchchaisrvas

Of Cows, I am Kamudak (Wish fulfilling Cow)

Of Elephants I am Amravati

Of Serpents I am Vasuki

Of Birds I am Garuda (Eagle)

Of Animals I am Lion

Of Water Animals I am Makara (Alligator)”.


Chapter 10, Shrimad Bhagwad Gita.


The social stature of animals in India is still no different than it used to be in the ancient times that is of a property[i]. Indian scriptures and Religious texts have Endorsed the Importance of animals in balancing our Ecosystem and that their killings are non-negotiable and unbearable. The most celebrated Religious Text of Hindus, Bhagwad Gita has stressed that the existence of animals in the world is not accidental and every living being has a purpose. The text has also Elucidated that how every animal is just another incarnation of Lord Krishna and that to kill them is the sin of the highest order.


It is disappointing to see the deplorable condition status of Animals rights in India. Right from cutting them to satisfy our craving, to killing them as adventure sports, we have been cornering their rights where now we cannot even see them. The Property status being indicative of their position never allowed the provisional enhancement of the liability against any harm caused to the animals. The backlash of the property tag is evident in statutes that though were made for the very protection of cruelties against animals but ended without casting a proportional liability on the perpetrator.

The primary statute dealing with animal cruelty in India is, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 with penal consequences but the penal sanctions are proportionally Inadequate with the cruelties that the animals face on the other side. Fine of 50 Rs is the maximum penal sanction that can be inflicted upon the wrongdoer[ii], which is not only an insignificant but insensitive approach towards the protection of the Rights of Animals.


Recent Activities in the light of Animal Cruelty in India.

Not long gone on 27th May, a pregnant elephant in Mallapuram District of Kerala ate pineapple stuffed with crackers that were actually kept for the wild boar to ward them of the properties of the farmers[iii]. The elephant’s jaw bled harshly and as a result, the elephant died a tragic death. The entire nation was in shock after the incident and was disgusted by the cruelty offered by the people. The question that arises after this tragic incident is what if the wild Boars had eaten the pineapple. Had it been the wild boars instead of the elephant what then? was it justified?


Soon after this incident, another case of crackers bursting into Cows mouth, damaging her jaws took place. Why is it that the enforceability of the Animal protection laws is so fragile that such incidents are very often?

Obsolete laws and ineffective sanctions significant in the proliferation of cases of animal cruelty

The Prevention of Cruelty against animals became enforceable in the year and 1960, shockingly its penal provisions have not been amended since then. The idea behind this legislation was to protect the animals from unnecessary pain. The PCA has often been claimed to be weak legislation as it has been inadequate in posing enforceable sanction for the atrocities upon the animals. A systematic approach is made to understand the inefficiency of the Act.


Section 11 of the PCA enumerates acts that constitute an offence only when the pain inflicted through such acts are nonessential. Section 11 says, kicking, overriding, over-driving, Beating, overloading, torturing which causes unnecessary pain. Orissa High court while hearing a case Interpreted section 11, “that beating an animal per se is not an offence unless such beating results in unnecessary pain”. In the Given circumstances where we have reserved the rights of animals how is it to be differentiated that the pain inflicted was necessary or unnecessary. There is a basic consensus that the animals should not suffer unnecessarily[iv]. However, we are yet to demarcate the difference between necessary and unnecessary.

The Supreme Court in Nagaraja Case highlighted the concept of Unnecessary pain, it said that in case of animal cruelty it should be seen that whether the pain caused could have been avoided with reasonable diligence or reduced or whether the conduct of causing such pain was for a legitimate purpose or not. The Legitimate purpose being, the protection of any person from such animal or for protection of such animal. The court further decided that section 3 of the act does not confer right upon any person to cause, whether necessary or unnecessary pain upon the Animal[v].


The Subjection of any cruel act against any animal from section 11 1(a) to (o) the person shall be liable to pay a fine which may extend up to 50 Rs. In case the offence is repeated within the three-year time frame the person shall be subjected to fine which shall not be less than Rs 25 the quantum of which may increase up to 100 Rs or imprisonment which may extend to three months, need not say reliefs are easily granted in such cases.


The laws in our country which were enacted for the protection of the animals from the atrocities are Redundant, toothless and insignificant to a level where it fails to maintain its enforceability.

The penalties prescribed are not even 1/1000th part of the pain suffered by the animals. The disproportionate amount of fine inflicted upon the wrongdoers against the gravity of sufferings on part of the animals is the most evident piece of truth to it. A fine of 50 Rs is not sufficient for an offence which could possibly result in death or severe injury to the animal. Consequently, offenders get easily away with their crimes thrashing the legislation into pieces.


Inadequacy of legislations on Animal rights and infertility of the sanctions, the laws that were meant to protect the animals from atrocities seems to be an ineffective product of parliament framing. Some amendments have been proposed in the PCA act in the past few years, the intent is the element that animal activists are expecting in the parliamentary take on the issue.


[i] David Favre, “Living Property: A New Status for Animals Within the Legal System” 93 Marquete Law Review 1021 (2009-10) [ii] S. 7, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 [iii] Kerala Elephant Tragedy: Plea in SC Seeks To Stop Use Of Snares & Traps Against Wildlife https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/kerala-elephant-tragedy-plea-in-sc-seeks-to-stop-use-of-snares-traps-against-wildlife-158269, (Last Visited on March 23, 2021) [iv]Hurnik, F., & Lehman, H. (1982). Unnecessary suffering: Definition and evidence. International Journal for the Study of Animal Problems, 3(2), 131-137. [v] Abha Nadakarni, Broadening the Scope of Liabilities For Cruelty Against Animals: Gauging The Legal Adequacy Of Penal Sanctions Imposed, 10 NUJS LAW REVIEW (2017).

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