- India is not new to the phenomenon called ‘zoosadism’ – inflicting cruelty on animals for personal amusement. A cat being run over by a car or a dog being attacked by a bunch of urchins are some of the sights that urban India witnesses quite often . However, the cruelty against animals stretches far beyond these activities. Army personnel cooking chinkara meat and superstars of Indian film industry poaching endangered deers and owning tusks are some of the news stories that frequently do the rounds.
- What provisions does the Constitution of India has to deter people from killing animals? What are the various degrees of punishment that can be meted out to those who perpetrate such acts?
Indian Wildlife Protection Act
- According to the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, enacted for the protection of wild animals, birds and plants, the act of hunting constitutes “capturing, killing, poisoning, snaring, or trapping any wild animal”. In fact, injuring, damaging or stealing body part of any animal also constitutes hunting. For wild birds and reptiles, “disturbing or damaging the eggs or nests” is tantamount to hunting. The amendment to the Act was enforced in January 2003 and punishment for offences was made more stringent.
- A first-time offender, who hunts animals or alters the boundaries of any reserved forested area, is liable for a minimum fine of Rs. 10,000 and at least three years of rigorous imprisonment. For a repeat offence, the term of imprisonment may extend to seven years with a minimum fine of Rs. 25,000. With the insertion of a new section, 51 A, the process of securing a bail has become more difficult. According to this amendment, the accused won’t get a bail unless the court finds “reasonable grounds” to believe that the individual is not guilty.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960
- The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 was enacted with an objective of preventing infliction of unnecessary pain on animals. The Section 11 clearly elucidates that causing harm to any animal during transportation is a cognizable offence. Tying up cattle in overcrowded vehicles is illegal, according to this Act. In fact, injecting anything injurious and serving any poisonous food is also illegal. Any such violation of Section 11 invites a penalty of Rs. 100 and/or up to three months of imprisonment.
Indian Penal Code
- According to sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code, it is illegal to maim or injure any animal. Acts like throwing acid on cows, injuring street dogs and cats also invite punishment, which in a way serves as a caveat for many reckless drivers on the road. The Code also makes it illegal for cars to injure or kill dogs, cats and cows on the street. Offenders are either handed over to the local animal protection group or a police station. Further, a criminal case is filed against them. A minimum penalty of Rs. 2000 and/or up to five years of imprisonment are awarded to the guilty.
Animal Testing of Cosmetics Banned in India
- In 2014, India introduced a nationwide ban on animal testing cosmetics. The ban on animal testing makes it illegal to use chemicals on their skin or feed them lethal doses. Moreover, any medical or research institute cannot pick up stray animals from the street for the purpose of experimentation. To report cases of illegal animal testing, which causes ‘considerable suffering’ to animals, a national helpline has also been launched.