This article is written by Saurav Narayan, intern of RTI Cell, iPleaders.
India has a diverse and rich biodiversity. Some endangered and uncommon species, such as the Royal Bengal Tiger and the Great Indian Rhinoceros, call it home. Animals, like humans, have the right to live freely. It is also our responsibility to ensure that their rights are protected. In India, there are a number of animal laws that aid in this endeavor.
Animals are sacred in India, according to tradition. In ancient days, ahimsa, or nonviolence against animals, was the standard. As a result, vegetarianism became the norm among Indians. Even now, a sizable portion of the Indian population follows the vegetarian diet. As a result, India has enacted fairly stringent animal protection legislation. The Apex Court in the State of Karnataka And Anr vs. Dr. Praveen Bhai Thogadia observed that:
“The chore of religion based upon spiritual values, which the Vedas, Upanishad, and Puranas were said to reveal to mankind seems to be – “Love others, serve others, help ever, hurt never” and “Sarvae Jana Sukhino Bhavantoo.” Ownership in the name of religion, whichever it be or at whosoever’s instance it be, would render constitutional designs countermanded and chaos, claiming its heavy toll on society and humanity as a whole, maybe the inevitable evil consequences, whereof.”
In this article, I will be discussing animal rights and Constitution, animal rights and Penal Code, animal rights and other laws, the recent judgment of High Courts, and animal ambulance.
Animal Rights and the Constitution
Article 48 A of the Indian Constitution talks about environment protection and improvement, as well as forest and wildlife preservation. The state will work to maintain and improve the environment, as well as the country’s forests and wildlife.
Article 51 A(g) of the Indian Constitution talks about compassion for all living animals as a fundamental duty of every Indian citizen.
While they are not directly enforceable in Indian courts, they establish the framework for animal protection legislation, policies, and state directives at the Central and State levels. Furthermore, they may be enforced in courts by using a broad judicial interpretation to bring them within the scope of Article 21’s judicially enforceable fundamental right to life and liberty.
Animal Rights and the Indian Penal Code
It is illegal to kill or maim any animal, especially stray animals which are explained under Section 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code. The punishment for causing mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming, or rendering useless any animal or animals worth ten rupees or more is outlined in Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code. Simple or rigorous imprisonment for a duration of up to two years, a fine, or both are possible punishments for such acts/offences. Section 429 of the IPC, on the other hand, deals with the punishment for the same type of offence, but for animals worth fifty rupees or more. It must be reported to the local police station as soon as possible. In this situation, the punishment will be either imprisonment for a time up to five years or a fine, or a combination of the two. Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code make it a cognizable offence.
Animal Rights and other laws
A slaughterhouse is the only site where an animal (including poultry) can be slaughtered. Animals that are sick or pregnant are not to be killed. (Chapter 4 of the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011, and Rule 3 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughterhouse) Rules, 2001.)
Neglecting an animal by depriving it of adequate food, water, shelter, and exercise, or by keeping him chained/confined for lengthy periods of time, is punished by a fine of up to 3 months in prison, or both. (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) 1960, Section 11(1)(h).)
It is illegal to train and use bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, lions, and bulls for amusement in circuses or on the streets. (PCA Act, 1960, Section 22(ii).)
It is a criminal offence to organize, participate in, or incite an animal fight. (PCA Act, 1960, Sections 11(1)(m)(ii) and 11(1)(n).)
Cosmetics that have been tested on animals are prohibited, as is their import. (1945 Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, Rules 148-C and 135-B.)
Teasing, feeding, or disturbing zoo animals, as well as littering the zoo grounds, is a crime punishable by a fine of Rs. 25000 or up to three years in prison, or both. (Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, Section 38J.)
Disturbing or destroying eggs or nests of birds and reptiles, or chopping a tree containing such nests, or even attempting to do so, is considered hunting and carries a fine of up to Rs. 25000, or a sentence of up to seven years in prison, or both. (Section 9 of the 1972 Wildlife (Protection) Act.)
Under two Central Acts, it is illegal to transport or carry animals in or on any vehicle in any manner or position that causes discomfort, agony, or suffering. (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Transport of Animal) Rules, 2001, and Motor Vehicles Act 1978, Section 11(1)(d).)
Recent judgment/order of High Courts on Animals Rights
The Kerala High Court recently took a Suo Motu petition to monitor state action in reported cases of animal cruelty and in the prevention of animal cruelty. Following that, notices were sent to the Centre, the States, and the Animal Welfare Board of India, in that order.
This comes after Justice Jayasankaran Nambiar wrote to the Chief Justice of India, pleading with him to investigate a news story that three kids were involved in the inhumane killing of a dog named Bruno on a beach in Thiruvananthapuram. Even though a police report had been filed in the instance, the letter stressed that prosecution in similar cases was rarely purposeful and fast.
The letter’s main concern was that Indian animal protection laws were based on the assumption that humans were superior to all other species.
It further stated that the time has come to pressure the government and its agencies to take aggressive action to protect animal rights. It had gone into detail about various cases in which the courts had affirmed similar rights for the welfare of animals.
The Suo Motu proceedings were eventually titled In Re: Bruno in honour of the unfortunate dog who died as a result of three youngsters inhumane behaviour.
A recent landmark judgment of the Delhi High Court held that community dogs (stray or street dogs) have the right to food, and citizens have the right to feed them. However, when exercising this right, care and caution should be exercised to ensure that it does not infringe on the rights of others or cause any harm, hindrance, harassment, or nuisance to other individuals or members of society.
Delhi High Court further stated that Article 21 establishes the Right to Life, stating that no one’s life or personal liberty may be taken away except in accordance with legal procedures. The Article has been dubbed the “procedural Magna Carta for the Protection of Life and Liberty.” Not only does the Article protect human life, but it also protects the lives of animals.
Animal Medical Ambulance: A way forward
The major goal of Mobile Veterinary Services (Animal Ambulance) is to give year-round access to meet the livestock’s emergency and critical care needs in the required quantity and quality. Timely and quick access of the Mobile Veterinary Services (Animal Ambulance) to the site, for the right reason, to the right animal patient, giving the right veterinary medical care at the right time might save animal life.
Providing emergency veterinary services is difficult because it entails dealing with a variety of animal patients, various emergencies such as medical, surgical, obstetrics, and gynaecological conditions, identifying zoonotic and notifiable diseases, and prompt and timely reporting to the appropriate government agencies.
States in which the Animal Medical Ambulance is available
- The Late Chief Minister J Jayalalitha launched AMMA services in Tamil Nadu on September 25, 2016. AMMA services have carved a niche for itself as a dependable service for livestock owners. A vehicle is equipped with a hydraulic system for transferring animals to local veterinary facilities for ambulatory treatment (MVC-AC).
- Telangana’s Pashu Arogya Seva (PAS): On September 15, 2017, the Chief Minister of Telangana, Mr. K Chandrashekhar Rao, inaugurated PAS services with 100 state-of-the-art Mobile Veterinary Clinics (MVC), one MVC each rural assembly seat.
- Gujarat’s Karuna Animal Ambulance Services (KAAS): The Karuna Animal Ambulance service was established on October 6, 2017, by Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr. Vijay Rupani, with 11 ambulances for the care of stray animals. In 2018, the service was expanded throughout all of Gujarat’s districts with the addition of 26 more ambulances. Based on the great success of the Karuna Ambulances, the Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani launched a concept of 10MVD, or one mobile veterinary dispensary, to serve the animal and livestock populations of ten villages, with the introduction of 108 MVD in Gandhinagar on June 24, 2020, with the goal of increasing the number of Mobile Veterinary Dispensaries to 460 by the end of the year, covering over 4600 villages in Gujarat and providing health security coverage on the spot to over 3.5 million animals.
- The Ministry of Animal Husbandry in the state of Karnataka has introduced an ambulance service for farmers’ sick cows in 15 districts. This service’s phone number is 1962. When any call is received on this number, a doctor will be dispatched to assess the animal’s condition. Currently, ten ambulances are operating in Bengaluru, with one ambulance assigned to each of the 15 districts. They are called ‘pashu sanjeevani’ said Prabhu Chauhan, Minister of Animal Husbandry.
- Andhra Pradesh has decided to establish “India’s first government-run animal ambulance network.” This decision was made in order to help the state’s animal husbandry and veterinary industries grow even further. One of the main purposes of the Ambulance Network is to assist in reaching out to distressed animals and providing them with proper animal healthcare. The Animal Husbandry Department was given the task of establishing a Mobile Ambulance Veterinary Clinic in each assembly constituency. A total of 175 mobile ambulances (veterinary) clinics would be stationed at Assembly Constituency Level to provide veterinary services at the doorstep.
In my opinion, every state government should implement Mobile Animal Ambulance so that no animal will die in the absence of a proper medical facility as the Right to life (Article 21) is not only limited to humans but also to the animals as held by Delhi High Court in the case of Dr. Maya D. Chablani v Radha Mittal & ors.
In my perspective, India still has a long way to go in terms of actually establishing a firm foundation for animal legislation. The Indian Constitution’s animal protection clauses remain ideas rather than concrete laws enforced in courts. The penalties for cruelty to animals under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) 1960 and Wildlife (Protection) Act are just insufficient to prevent crimes against animals. The law is not strictly enforced, and it provides many provisions that allow for liability to be avoided. In order to provide India with a stronger animal protection law, extensive modifications are required.
Regardless of how many rules exist, it is ultimately our responsibility to guarantee that our animals are not harmed. Animals are living entities, just like people. When they are harmed, they are in excruciating pain, and we must always remember this. As a result, we must uphold our responsibilities and refrain from harming animals unnecessarily. And just because you do not own an animal doesn’t mean you have the right to harm others.
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