Important animal rights every Indian should know about

August 20, 2021

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This article is written by Raslin Saluja from KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneswar. The article lists down animal rights that every Indian should know and the steps and measures that can be taken to further enhance animal protection.


Being the seventh-largest country in the world, India comprises four vast bio-diverse regions out of the 36 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Over the years, animal welfare and protection laws have taken a prominent position, giving India some of the finest provisions of animal safeguarding laws.

Animal laws and the Constitution of India

The Directive Principle of State Policy under Article 48A directs the Constitutional duty of every Indian citizen to preserve and safeguard the natural environment, including forests, rivers, lakes, and wildlife, and to treat all living creatures properly. The state derives its duty to attempt and try to enhance the quality of the environment and to protect the flora and fauna of the country from Article 48A. Both these provisions were introduced by the 42nd Amendment in 1976 for shaping and guiding the law of animal protection at the Central and State levels. As a result, legislation like the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 prevail at the Centre, and a special focus on cattle protection and cow slaughter prohibition exists at the State under Article 48. Item 14 of the State List provides that the States have the power to “preserve, protect and improve stock and prevent animal diseases and enforce veterinary training and practice.”

As for the Concurrent List, both the Centre and the States hold the power to legislate on:

  1. Item 17: “Prevention of cruelty to animals.”
  2. Item 17B: “Protection of wild animals and birds.”

Cruelty against animals is also a cognizable offence under Section 428 and Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. Animal laws exist to ensure that animals are not ill-treated and get safe and secure surroundings around them. While many laws have been enacted to safeguard animals, many people may be unaware of animal rights.

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

This Act was enacted in 1972 to safeguard the wildlife of the nation and to have control over illegal activities of poaching, smuggling and trade in wildlife and its derivatives. In 2003, it was amended and stringent punishments and penalties were introduced to strengthen the impact of the Act.

A few animals rights under the Act are:

Prevention of Cruelty Act, 1960

This Act aims to protect the animals and prevent them from suffering needless pain and modify the laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals. According to the Act, an animal is defined as any living creature other than a human being. Further, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), established under Chapter II of the Act by the Government of India, has the following functions:

Most of the animal protection rights against cruelty are under Section 11 of the Act, wherein cruelty to animals has been enumerated in different variants as the following actions:

However, when cattle are dehorned/castrated in the prescribed manner, stray dogs are destroyed in lethal chambers in a prescribed manner and any animal who is exterminated under the authority of law is not considered as cruelty under this Act.

Under Part IV of the Act, experimentation on animals is allowed under the central government’s committee set up for controlling and supervising such experiments conducted on animals, which also holds the power to prohibit experimentation if so necessary.



It is an offence to treat animals cruelly which attracts a punishment of a monetary fine of Rs. 10, which may extend to Rs. 50 for being convicted the first time. On being convicted a second time within three years of the previous offence, he would be awarded a penalty of Rs. 25, which may extend to Rs. 100, or imprisonment which may extend up to three months, or both under Section 11[1(o)]. In cases where operations that can cause harm to the health of any animal like that of Phooka or any other if performed for bettering lactation, the government holds the power to act to benefit the animal and forfeit or seize the animal. Moreover, under Section 20, an act that is done in contravention of any order of the committee regarding experimentation on animals is punishable with a fine of up to Rs. 200.

Besides these rights, according to Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, dogs that are not sterilised cannot be relocated from their area, though people can take action and inform the animal welfare organization to sterilise and vaccinate them. Similarly, in line with the 2001 Rules, under Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, sterilization of dogs can only be done when they’ve attained the age of four months, and not earlier. Further, stray cattle (cows/buffaloes) cannot be claimed by anyone to sell; the person would first have to have to get proper documentation done to prove he is an agriculturist to sell/buy. Rules 148-C and 135-B of Drugs & Cosmetics (Fifth Amendment) Rules, 2014 ban any kind of cosmetics that are tested on animals and then are imported.

No other place except a slaughterhouse can be used for the slaughtering of animals, including chickens. Slaughtering of sick or pregnant animals is not allowed. No temple/street can slaughter animals if they are not licensed/prescribed to do so, according to the Local Municipal Corporation Acts, Rule 3 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (Slaughterhouse) Rules, 2001, Chapter 4, Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Steps for further enhancing the protection of animals


There is still a long way to go for the development of animal jurisprudence which was once started on a progressive note. The Cruelty Prevention Act in various ways provides a leeway that needs to change due to the diversity of religions and traditions in India. The punishments under the Act are not stringent/strict enough to make a deterrent impact. Extensive reforms are required with strict enforcement of the law to have stronger protection of animals in India, as has been suggested above.


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