Animal Cruelty Laws in India
Animal Cruelty Laws in India
“Animal Cruelty on a rise during lockdown”, “Pregnant Dog abused to Death in Bhubaneswar”, “In Delhi, abandoned pets face cruelty amidst lockdown”, and “Stray dog dies in Pune after man ties it to a two-wheeler, drags it on road at high speed” are a few headlines that every newspaper reader is coming across these days. It is for a fact that the COVID-19 wave has managed to expose different faces of humanity. On one hand, volunteers from organisations like HSA, PETA and PFA are battling hard to shower a few glimpses of comfort on the strays and the other hand, some of the pet owners are abandoning their dogs and cats only because they saw social media flooded with news alleging the spread of COVID through animals. Fortunately, India has various laws which come to the rescue for those who wish to prevent animal cruelty or abuse.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
- Section 3 of the PCA act bestows a duty on any person having the care and charge of the animal to take all reasonable measures necessary for the well-being of such animal. It further makes it necessary for the person in charge to prevent the infliction of any unnecessary pain or suffering through all measures necessary.
- Section 11 of the PCA squarely covers all instances of animal cruelty possible to the human mind. It makes beating, riding over, torturing, hurting any animal a punishable offence.
Furthermore, abandoning a pet, keeping an animal chained, thirsty, hungry or under any such circumstance causing unnecessary pain to the animal is a punishable offence. Albeit, the punishment is fairly low as per the common standards being imprisonment which may extend to three months or with fine which may extend to Rs. 100 or with both. An amendment relating to the increment of fine under this statute has been long pending in the parliament and awaiting attention for the last few decades.
Indian Penal Code, 1860
- Section 503 r/w Section 506 – Threatening another person with an injury to his body, property or his reputation with an intent to cause alarm to that person, or to cause that person to do any act the person is not bound to do or to stop that person from doing any act the person is legally entitled to do, is criminal intimidation which is a punishable offence with imprisonment which may extend to 2 years or with fine or both.
The provision comes to rescue for all the Pet owners and Stray Animal feeders as nothing in the law prohibits anyone from feeding a stray animal until it infringes the right of someone else. Interestingly, as per article 51A(G) of the Indian Constitution, every citizen has to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures. Unfortunately, we as citizens are successfully competing with the state in shrugging of our the fundamental duty to exist in harmony with animals.
- Section 429 – The provision makes it punishable to cause mischief by killing, maiming or hurting an animal above a value of Rs. 50 or more, to make it useless, with imprisonment which may extend up to 5 years or fine or both.
Pet owners and Cattle keepers are squarely protected under this provision and can file an FIR under section 429 if any person tries to or has harmed the animals in their custody.
Once the FIR has been filed, the police officer takes a written notice of the condition of the animal who then has to be taken to a vet to determine the cause of death. During the investigation, the police officer will record the statements of witnesses who have witnessed the incident or any past incident of cruelty inflicted upon the animal before. Once the investigation is over, the police may file a Charge sheet (challan) or a closure report deepening upon the conclusion of the investigation.