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Laws against Animal Cruelty in India.

Written by : Abhishek Kumar

Issues Covered : -

1)What is animal cruelty and what are its different shades happening around us but are being ignored?

2)What are the different laws for such acts and are they competent enough to serve the purpose?


The word is made up of many essential living components like Plants, Humans, Animals and Birds but I think technological advancement among humans has created a layer in our sight which has made us ignorant about the pain and cruelty, we as humans inflict on other living organisms. The animals (including birds) which are a crucial part of this ecosystem and very loyal friends of humans are being treated worse than enemies. Why is this happening? It’s happening because they can’t narrate their suffering to anyone, they are not as powerful as us in terms of the brain, and they are not one of us.

We talk about the rights of children, rights of women, rights of suppressed classes and many other rights because they are one of our types and we understand the pain they are going through. We consider the acts against them unbearable and unacceptable. A 5-year-old being thrashed brutally is wrong, a woman suffering domestic violence is wrong, a person of a suppressed class being discriminated against is wrong, and so is an innocent animal tolerating our brutality and cruelty without any cause. In law, the mental state of the wrongdoer is a big point, the knowledge of the act is kept in mind while delivering justice then why is it not in the case of animals? We can’t overlook the fact that on daily basis animals are being injured or killed just because we think that it’s not a big deal. In most cases, after the purpose gets served, they are either not taken reasonable care of or left abandoned on the road. We have laws against animal cruelty but are they adequate to reduce or stop such acts, let’s find out.


Article 51A(g) of the Indian constitution says that “we as humans should have a soft corner for animals and behave decently and reasonably with them”. Apart from this, there are several more laws which prohibit animal cruelty –

Prevention of Cruelty against Animals (POCA) Act, 1960

Section 11 of the act deals with such problems. There are several provisions in the act. Some of the major ones are listed below –

  1. The act says “slaughtering of animals (other than designated or permitted slaughter house) will invite fine or imprisonment or both.

  2. Not taking proper care of a pet/domesticated animal can invite a fine or imprisonment for 3 months or both.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

Major offences according to this act are –

  1. Using animals like monkeys, bears, elephants, etc., for road shows and circuses.

  2. Resifting of an animal which has settled in an area because this may lead to isolation and ultimately death of the creature.

  3. Poaching of animals for any purpose.

  4. Putting any animal or bird in the cage.

Food Safety Standard Regulatory Act, 2011

The main offence regarding animals in this act is the slaughtering of pregnant or ill animals for food.

Animal Birth Control Rule, 2001

The law says that “Any act of making an animal sterile, either temporary or permanent is illegal and can invite penalty or imprisonment or both”.

Slaughter House Rule, 2001

According to the rule, religious sacrifices on festivals or any other occasions are illegal in nature and will invite punishment or fine, if done so.

Apart from all these mentioned acts of cruelty, there are many which are being carried out but ignored. They are listed below-

  1. For milk, the calves are separated from the mother cow at a very young age. With this dual wrong is done, one separating an infant from their mother (due to which he will survive on artificial nutrients which invite several diseases) and the other one is separating a mother from her child.

  2. Fishing may seem to be a normal activity without cruelty but one should imagine how will they feel if a hook will pierce their neck and they will be hanging in the air.

  3. As mentioned above, slaughtering of animals can only be done in houses permitted by the state but we barely see the permit letters and the pockets of such owners are getting heavy on the cost of lives of animals.

  4. Sacrifices are prohibited but the practice is rampant in the rural areas and there is barely any case recorded.

  5. Many animals like male goats, cats and bulls are made docile through the destruction of testes or vasectomy and nobody considers how painful is it to them.

  6. Males of many animals have been left on the road or far away from home just because they are not useful to their owners.

  7. Birds are caged and openly sold in the market. The person who buys them with the cage puts them in the same way at the home. How will a person feel if he/she will get food and is not allowed to go anywhere? I think we all can relate to this thing more after the lockdowns and quarantines.

There are laws but they don’t seem to be effective. One crucial point about our such laws is the term ‘cruelty’ is vaguely defined in our law books. In the case A Nagraj v Animal welfare board (2014), the apex court said: “any act for legitimate purpose will not amount to cruelty”. What does this ‘legitimate’ mean? The killing of an animal for leather is legitimate and the killing of an elephant for ivory is cruelty. How is this statement justified? This vague definition of cruelty is increasing the risk more because under the shield in remote areas the cruelty over animals is rampant. The minimal penalties are making the condition grave. A report by FIAPO states that from 2010 to 2020, around 4,93,910 cases of animal cruelty have been registered. Imagine the number of incidents which cannot reach the government registers.


To understand this topic in the best way, we need to ask a question ourselves, ‘is there any change’ and I think most of the answers are the same “no”. Recently, there has been an amendment in POCA, 1960 which has increased the penalty from 50000 to 75000. The major problem is ‘who is reporting the cases? We see several wounded and bleeding animals roaming the streets. Why can’t we formulate laws for their protection? We have rest houses for humans, why can’t we have shelter homes for animals? The government hospitals for animals can be barely seen. Why can’t the fishing hooks be prohibited? Why can’t buying or selling of birds be criminalized? Apart from these, the laws are only targeting some of the sections of the society like the Madari and Sapera communities which do such acts in front of the people and this is not the complete solution to the problem.

We as humans, need to take some steps. Law and state joining hands together should work for animal welfare. Some steps which can be taken –

  1. Shelter homes for animals.

  2. Volunteers should be trained to provide the report of such animals and bring them to the hospitals.

  3. Every city must have at least two hospitals for animals.

  4. The implementation of laws should be done more stringently.

  5. A regular survey team should be made for the health check-up of domesticated animals and report to the nearby police station in case of any negligence by the owner.

  6. Illegal slaughter house should be closed with immediate effect and offenders should be persecuted.

  7. There must be a registration of every domesticated or pet animal and a yearly approval of the health of the animal by a government doctor should be made compulsory. This will increase the vacancies and interest of medical students in the field too.


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