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  • Writer's pictureAnirudh G Kamath

Laws Related to Cruelty Towards Animals

Animals are living species that have co-existed with humans for centuries. Though such a

history exists, yet most of the time animals are subjected to cruelty by humans. History is

evident that from the olden days itself animals were never treated properly and were

frequently subjected to various forms of cruelty. In the ancient era where royal kingdoms

existed, animals like elephants and horses were held captive and were used for war and sports, the animals like cow and sheep were nothing more than properties and only remained as royal status. Wild animals who showed wildness in nature and behavior were rigorously hunted for their meat, skin, and other body parts. The modern-day is not very different from the ancient practices, even though ancient-style monarch is removed and democracy is installed, but yet the typical dominance maintained by humans over animals has never changed, exploitation in a cruel manner for personal gain still prevails. The bull run, circus, zoo, etc. are all examples of animals being exploited for personal and other gains, these also remains the symbol of animal cruelty across the world.

Animal Sitch in India-

In India, the condition is not different, the animals are exploited variously. Animals mostly

are held captive and tortured for use in commercial, sports, and other activities the best

an example is a bullfight commonly known as ‘jalliketu’, cockfight, sheep fight, etc. India is very diverse when it comes religious activities, most of the religious activities do have a connection with an animal. Like if it is a religious procession then an elephant is used and if it’s a puja or sacred sacrifice then cow or goats are used. Animal skin and body parts are also used as materials for various products in India. For the prevention of this cruelty and exploitation, the remedies are rules, legal actions, and legislation.

Law in India for prevention of cruelty against animals-

Constitution of India:

The Indian Constitution which is the supreme law in India contains various provisions toward the same. Article 48 of the Indian Constitution contains a provision regarding prohibiting the slaying and slaughter and preserving of the breed. The parliament and legislature are both responsible to come out with provisions and legislation for preventing cruelty and protect animals. Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution places a duty on every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment and also to develop compassion towards living creatures. Article 243(G) and 243(W) directs panchayaths and municipalities to regulate the provision of protection of animals under them.

Indian Penal Code 1860:

The Indian Penal Code 1860 contains various sections which punish the offense involving

and against animals. Section 428 and 429 deal with punishment for committing mischief

involving and against animals. ‘Theft’ under Section 378 extends its ambit to the theft of

animals. Apart from these, different sections under the Code penalize crimes involving and

against animals.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act 1960:

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act 1960, is the separate entire act that is dedicated to

animal protection and to prevent cruelty against them, this is the core objective of the act. The Act imposes a duty on the person having care of an animal to take all the necessary

reasonable measures to protect the animal. The act also has a provision for the constitution

and functioning of an animal welfare board, which would focus on animals and crimes or

mischiefs conducted against it, all the details regarding the appointment of members, power, and mode of functioning of the welfare board have been elaborately laid under this act. Section 11 of the act is the most important section which deals with treating animals cruelly, the cruelty includes beating, kicking, overexploiting, overloading, injecting harmful drugs, etc. The act further penalizes the act of practicing phooka. Aspects such as unreasonable experimenting on animals and forceful training and exhibiting performing animals are penalized under this act. Further, Provisions for inspection, implementation of the strict measure, and adoption of strict actions are also included under this act.

The major drawback of this act is the killing of animals for religious activity and purpose has been exempted, while the reason for this was the religious diversity of the county, but a significant portion of animals are harassed every year in the name of religious activities. This ranges from forceful exhibition and brutal killing of animals for ‘sacred sacrifice’, but yet this finds no place for punishment under this act . Another drawback of this act is the gravity of punishment inflicted on the culprits is very small i.e., most of the punishment mentioned for each crime in the act are fines amounting from Rs 10- Rs 1000, which is very low compared to the gravity of the crime.

Other Rules and Enactment:

Apart from the above-mentioned act, there is other numerous central and state legislation

enacted for the protection of animals. The Transportation of Animal Rules 1978, focusing on

animal transportation from place to place and measures to protect them while in travel, and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules 2001, which focus on the

regulation of slaughtering of animals are examples of such laws.

Photo courtesythe Humane Society International, India


Even though there are many enactments, provisions, and legislation present for the prevention of cruelty towards animals but yet there is a gap in the system and its mechanism. While it is high time that crime against animals is considered serious. Incidents such as assault of pet animals, violent physical assaults on captive animals have always been a wake-up call. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act 1960, which is the core activity, to prevent cruelty against animals, should tackle its drawbacks and remove the uneven exemption. All legislation, act, and rules should go hand in hand for the protection of the animals, rather than overlapping each other. This could result in building a better habitat for animals.


DISCLAIMER: This blog is an academic endeavour to increase awareness of the legal procedures and the rights associated with them. The opinions expressed by the contributors are for informational purposes only and are made in their personal capacity. Nothing herein shall be deemed constitute legal advice. The reader is cautioned to seek legal advice from trained professionals for their queries.

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