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This article is written by Akshita Gupta, pursuing BBA LLB from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. This article discusses different instances of animal cruelty in India, the recent Bruno case.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Animal welfare refers to the animals’ quality of life and how well they cope with their circumstances and environment. It refers to man’s interaction with nature. Humans have been known to domesticate animals since time immemorial. Animals are not only used for husbandry and agriculture in India but they are also revered as gods and goddesses. Animal welfare is addressed in India’s constitution and other legislation. Aside from that, India’s top court has recognised animal rights on several occasions. Animal cruelty is widespread in India, despite the country’s efforts to protect and safeguard animal rights. There are many instances of animal cruelty on a daily basis that are not being reported. 

Recently, Kerala High Court took suo moto cognizance of the brutal killing of a dog named Bruno by three persons in Thiruvananthapuram. The present article has been written to state different instances of animal cruelty in India.

A look at different instances of Animal Cruelty in India

Animals are not only kept as domestic animals but are also worshipped by people in India. Despite the fact that there are numerous laws, conventions, treaties, court declarations, government efforts, and projects in place, we have failed to protect the voiceless.

Every day, many acts of animal cruelty occur, yet they are rarely reported.

Stray dog thrown by man into the Upper Lake of  Madhya Pradesh

In September 2020, after a video of the man throwing a dog into a lake circulated on the internet, youth in Bhopal was arrested by the Shyamla Hills police station. After animal lovers filed a complaint with Bhopal Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police Irshad Wali, a case was filed against him under Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and other sections of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The incident occurred on VIP Road, which connects the old and new city when a guy threw a stray dog into the Upper Lake while filming a video that was later shared on social media. In the viral video, the man is seen standing on the walkways near the lake in the late evening hours, picking up one of two dogs roaming nearby and throwing it into the lake while giggling and looking at the person filming the video. While in police detention, accused Salman told reporters that he shot the video for fun and accepted that he made a mistake. He apologized for his actions by holding his ears in front of the TV camera.

Pregnant Bison killed for its meat in Malappuram

In the Malappuram region of Kerala, a pregnant Indian bison, popularly known as gaur, was slaughtered for its meat in a cruel crime. The local police received a tip about a wild animal being poached on the night of August 10 and raided the place as a result. Six men in the Puncha Forest region had killed a bison, and roughly 25kg of meat was seized from their homes during the raid. Further examination of the animal’s bones and carcasses indicated that the animal was pregnant at the time of its death.

The bison was allegedly shot near Poopathiripara by the men. They dumped the bones, carcasses, and other hunting equipment in the forest after butchering the animal. Following the slaughter, more than 200 kilograms of meat were distributed. Despite their attempts to flee during the raid, the accused were apprehended and arrested. Six men were arrested and brought to court the next week of the event.

After eating cracker-filled fruit, a pregnant elephant dies

The demise of a pregnant elephant in Kerala sparked outcry across the country. In quest of food, a wild elephant strayed out of Silent Valley Forest and into a nearby village. She allegedly ate a pineapple loaded with strong crackers that were provided to her by a man. When she bit  the fruit, it exploded in her mouth, fracturing her jaw. She then went to Malappuram’s Vellar River and stood in the water for hours. Despite efforts to save her, the elephant died many hours later. The cracker-filled fruit, according to forest police, was used as bait to kill wild animals. 

Kitten burnt alive in Hyderabad

A virtual manhunt has been launched by animal rights group Humane Society International’s India chapter for an unidentified man who set a cat on fire and shared a video of the incident on a social media platform. The group also offered a Rs 50,000 prize to anyone who could identify the criminal. Although no human words are audible in the video, the unlucky kitten’s urgent mewing can be heard. The kitten appears to be feeble because it does not attempt to run rapidly or do anything other than crying weakly before collapsing to the ground and taking its final breath.

Cruel act by Dog lover in Punjab

Gurinder Singh, a 26-year-old man from Punjab’s Kapurthala, was detained after being caught in the cruel act of purposely running over a stray dog. A total of 12 dogs were rescued from his home. The arrest comes a day after BJP MP and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi uploaded a video of him supposedly running his car over a dog, leaving it in great pain and eventually bleeding to death on Twitter, based on CCTV footage.

The video received a lot of attention on social media. The dog was spotted limping away toward the walkway, leaving a pool of blood in the road where he was lying.

The accused was later discovered to be a dog breeder and seller who used to sell canines to dog-fighting rings. After residents contacted People For Animals (PFA) activists, an FIR was filed. Singh’s automobile registration number, which was captured on CCTV, was used to identify him and track him down.

On the basis of a complaint by a representative of People for Animals, Singh was charged under relevant sections of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Indian Penal Code.

In Bhopal, a 55-year-old man rapes a cow; arrested for unnatural sex

The humiliating episode occurred on July 4, 2020, at around 4 a.m., when the 55-year-old man went to a dairy in Sundar Nagar and allegedly participated in unnatural sex with a cow, according to Bhopal police. The gruesome incident was caught on camera by the dairy’s CCTV camera. After reviewing the area’s CCTV footage, authorities apprehended Sabir Ali and charged him with unnatural acts of sexual perversion against an animal under section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Ayodhya cow rape  

A man was captured on CCTV camera rapping calves at a shelter in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya district in May 2019. Following the alleged crime, the man was apprehended. Rajkumar, a resident of the Gonda district’s Nawabganj region, was named as the suspect. He was a regular visitor to the shelter in question. The incident was found after volunteers assisting in everyday activities in the Kartilya Baba Ashram, discovered CCTV footage of an unknown individual rapping animal.

Following the incident, the shelter volunteers decided to keep a tight eye on the man. After that, the accused went back to the shelter and tried to sexually abuse the animals once more. However, he was apprehended by volunteers who had been waiting for him.

Jallikattu Bull killed by three intoxicated men

In Tamil Nadu’s Krishnagiri district, three inebriated men stoned a Jallikattu bull to death. The event, which occurred on June 5, was made public on Thursday after a video of the animal’s cruelty was extensively circulated on social media. K Vetrivel, 35, of Papparapatti, who is the village administrative officer (VAO) in Channasandra, owned the bull. He had been caring for the deceased bovine for almost two years. The bull had competed in some Jallikattu events, according to Vetrivel. When Vetrivel arrived at the farm, he discovered the bull had died. The bull’s mouth was injured, and his horns were broken. Vetrivel assumed it had hit the tree and died as a result. The body was taken to a morgue for an examination and then buried. Vetrivel saw a video on social media of three inebriated men pelting stones at the now-dead bull. The bull became furious after being hit by the stones. When it tried to strike the three inebriated men who were bothering it, its horns snapped. After the inquiry into the FIR was filed against them, none of them were detained.

Hanging of monkey in Telangana 

The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO) has denounced the execution of a monkey in Telangana’s Khammam district. The animal abuse incident was exposed after a video of the incident went viral on social media, causing outrage.

In Ammapalem village, the monkey was hanged from a tree. The incident was captured on film, and it showed the animal fighting for his life with two dogs snarling at him. Lathis were also sighted in the hands of some villagers. The monkey was said to have been murdered because he wandered onto a farmer’s field.

FIAPO urged the government to fulfill its social obligation towards animals around the country by recognizing and protecting their rights. It stated that the government must approach the problem comprehensively and create a balance between animal and human rights.

Three people have been detained in connection with the matter, according to Sathupalli Forest Range Officer A Venkateswarlu.

Dog chained and dragged through two-wheelers in Mumbai

Someone in Mumbai chained a stray dog to a vehicle and dragged it to death in a heartbreaking act of animal cruelty. The dog’s body was discovered near the ONGC colony in Bandra-Kurla Complex. Meanwhile, an anonymous person has been charged in connection with the case by the BKC police station. A rag was tied around the dog’s front legs. The dog’s body, which was allegedly hauled to a distance after its limbs were attached to a vehicle, was discovered by a local journalist. The animal’s body was discovered on the side of the road, its eyes bulging and blood seeping from its body.

What are the changes required in PCA Act, 1960?

In the next monsoon session of parliament, the social media storm has been lobbying for a revision to the decades-old Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The Animal Cruelty Prevention Act was passed in 1960, which went into effect in 1974, mandates punishment and/or fines for a variety of animal cruelty offences, but animal groups call the penalties “meagre” at best. The maximum penalties for a first-time offender are only fifty rupees, according to this draconian regulation.

Animal activists are using the hashtag #NoMore50 to call for the law to be changed in order to punish egregious animal abuse. The Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairying suggested changes to the sixty-year-old statute in February of this year.

Despite the proposal’s introduction, no action was taken by the legislature during that session. As a result, animal advocates are mobilizing just before a new session of parliament begins in order to lobby for the passage of these measures.

Past Amendments: The law has not been amended in the past. According to Chinny Krishna, the former vice-chairman of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the AWBI drafted an Animal Welfare Bill in 2011 and submitted it to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (now, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change). The government, on the other hand, took no action. 

What are the proposed amendments?

Previously, any adverse act of cruelty was punishable by fines ranging from Rs 10 to Rs 50. Beating, kicking, tormenting, starving, overloading, overriding, and mutilating an animal fall under this category. In its place, the proposed draft states that if an individual or an organization causes an animal to die as a result of their actions, they could face a penalty of up to 75,000 rupees or triple the animal’s worth.

Kerala HC took suo moto on Bruno Case

Another case of animal mistreatment has been recorded in Vizhinjam’s Adimalathura. After being attached through the neck to the hook of a fishing bait on a boat, a pet dog was beaten to death. The body was then tossed into the water. In connection with the event, police have filed charges against three people, two of whom are children. 

The high court renamed the suo moto case on animal cruelty prevention as ‘In Re: Bruno’ (In the matter of Bruno), calling it an appropriate monument to the unfortunate dog. The court initiated the PIL following the brutal killing of a dog named Bruno by three teenagers on Adimalathura beach in Thiruvananthapuram on June 28.

The court also ordered the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to develop a practicable action plan to raise public awareness and educate citizens about animal rights, as well as their obligations and responsibilities in this regard. The bench added that immediate action is essential in this regard so that the horrible incidence reported recently does not recur in the future, and asked AWBI to file a report within one month.

The court also stated in the judgment that the state’s veterinary hospitals and related infrastructure facilities are in desperate need of upgrading and that the state government should take action.

The government should also provide district administration with the authority to investigate accusations of animal abuse and apartment by laws prohibiting residents from having pets of their choosing.

Animals protection laws in India

Constitutional provisions

Various Articles in the Indian Constitution were created to safeguard and preserve the rights of animals in India.

  • Part IV of the Constitution contains The Directive Principles of State Policy, which includes Article 48, which enables the state to manage agricultural and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines, as well as protect breeds and outlaw the slaughter of cows, calves, and other milch and draught animals.
  • Article 48A says that the state shall make every effort to protect and defend the environment, the forest, and the wildlife, and states that the state shall make every effort to preserve and safeguard the environment, the forest, and the wildlife.
  • Part IV A of the Constitution declares that every citizen has basic fundamental rights, which include a duty to maintain and improve the natural environment under Article 51A(g). The Indian Constitution also gives the parliament and state legislatures the right to create legislation to combat animal cruelty and to protect wild animals and birds, as stated in Article 246 read with the Constitution’s Seventh Schedule. The Panchayat is empowered to create legislation on animal husbandry, dairying, and poultry under Article 243G and the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.
  • Article 243W, when read in conjunction with the Constitution’s Twelfth Schedule, allows municipalities to enact rules regarding cattle pounds and the prevention of animal cruelty.

Indian Penal Code 1860

  • Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, stipulates that causing mischief by killing or maiming any animal worth ten rupees is punishable by two years in prison, a fine, or both.
  • Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, stipulates that murdering or maiming any designated animal of any worth, or of a value of 50 rupees or more, is punishable by five years in prison, a fine, or both.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 was created to protect animals from unnecessary suffering and cruelty. It is a law that applies just to animals.

It prohibits anyone from engaging any animal in any type of fighting or shooting competition. The Act makes it mandatory for an animal’s owner to provide adequate food, shelter, and care.

The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972

The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was enacted to protect and preserve wildlife animals while also preventing illegal wildlife trading and smuggling. It protects the world’s endangered species.

Conventions

The United Nations Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) is an environmental convention that establishes a framework for the preservation and conservation of migratory species and their habitats. India is a signatory to the treaty. The 13th CMS conference was organized in India.

Judicial Pronouncements

Our judiciary, in addition to many laws and treaties, plays an important role in the protection and maintenance of animal rights and welfare in India. The judicial activism on animal protection is as below:

Animal Welfare Board of India vs. Nagaraja & Ors.

The Honourable Supreme Court of India found in favour of the Animal Welfare Board of India  (AWBI) in this case, and Jallikattu was banned. It further stated that Article 51A(g) of the Indian constitution is the Magna Carta of animal rights in India and that Article 21 of the constitution extends the right to life to all living beings, including animals.

Abdul Hakim Qureshi vs. State of Bihar

The Honourable Supreme Court ruled in this case that a blanket ban on cows did not violate Muslims’ religious freedom. Article 48 of the constitution only applies to cows, calves, and other animals with the ability to produce milk or work as drought animals, not all cows or cattle.

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals vs. Union of India 

The Bombay High Court ruled in this case that any film wanting to use an animal must first acquire a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Animal Welfare Board of India.

N.R Nair and Ors. vs. Union of India

The court ruled that the constitution’s legal rights do not apply only to people, but also to animals.

Gauri Maulekhi vs. State of Uttarakhand and Ors.

The court ruled that an animal cannot be subjected to needless pain and suffering for the sake of consumption. It violates Section 11(3)(e), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

Karnail Singh and others vs. State of Haryana

The Punjab and Haryana High Court proclaimed all animals to be legal entities, as well as declaring Haryana residents to be people in loco parentis (in place of a parent). Legal personhood is not restricted to human beings, according to the court.

Government Initiatives

More than 100 million animals suffer and die every year as a result of chemical, pharmacological, food, cosmetics, and medical research, according to a report by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). 

Fortunately, the subject of animal abuse has recently acquired worldwide attention and is being taken seriously by the Indian government. The administration has taken several bold steps toward making the country cruelty-free. The following initiatives have been taken by the government:

Captive Dolphin Shows are prohibited in India

According to the Ministry of Environment and Forest of the Indian government, which issued a directive in May 2013 prohibiting the acquisition and exploitation of dolphins for entertainment reasons. It also adopted a policy instructing state governments to deny any Dolphinarium authorization.

Imports Of Animal-Tested Cosmetics Are Prohibited

In November 2014, India became the first country in South Asia to prohibit the import of animal-tested cosmetics. India has become the first cruelty-free zone in South Asia as a result of this daring move.

Jet Airways Commits To Protecting Shark Population And Marine Ecosystem

In response to Humane Society International/petition, India’s Jet Airways has banned the shipment of shark fins on its carriers in order to conserve the world’s diminishing shark population. Jet Airways, an Indian airline, sets a precedent for the rest of the world.

Government Orders To Stop Illicit Animal Movement To Nepal

On November 4, 2014, India’s Ministry of Home Affairs issued an order to the paramilitary Sashatra Seema Bal to stop illegal animal movement to Nepal and to prohibit cattle transport without a license.

This measure is in response to the Gadhimai Festival in Nepal, where tens of thousands of animals were sacrificed, with 70% of those animals being illegally smuggled from India.

To combat such smuggling and criminal acts, the Ministry of Home Affairs adopted certain strong measures.

Notice by Punjab and Haryana High Court

On a plea submitted by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana issued notice against the confinement of egg-laying hens in battery cages in March 2014. The cages are no bigger than an A4 sheet of paper. This type of mistreatment is illegal under Section 11(1)(e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and is also barbaric. The Indian government has worked to establish a cruelty-free environment for animals in India through these measures.

Wildlife Conservation Initiatives by Government of India

The Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 protects wildlife creatures in India. To safeguard and maintain the diminishing status of many extinct creatures, wildlife conservation projects were started.

The Government of India has invested in many conservation programs in order to safeguard and conserve wildlife, biodiversity, ecological stability, and ecosystem maintenance. The following are a few of them:

Project Tiger

In 1972, the Indian government launched a wildlife conservation project known as Project Tiger. It has benefited not only the conservation of tigers but also the environment as a whole. The Ministry of Environment, Forestry, and Climate Change is funding this initiative. There are roughly 48 tiger reserves spread throughout more than 17 regions, all of which are involved in determining the number of tigers and their habitat, as well as other activities. The national board for wildlife advised forming a task force known as the tiger task force to oversee the project’s implementation across the country. From 268 tigers in nine reserves in 1972 to 2000+ tigers till 2016 speak about the success of the project.
Project Elephant:

In 1992, the Indian government launched Project Elephant, a program aimed at conserving elephants and their habitats, as well as their development in many ways. It also takes into account issues involving human-elephant conflict and strengthens and protects elephants from unnatural death.

Crocodile Conservation Project

Another successful attempt by the Indian government to save Indian crocodiles is the Crocodile Conservation Project. Crocodiles are nearly extinct as a species. The project’s goal is to increase the number of crocodiles in the wild by breeding them, establishing sanctuaries, and improving their management. 

We were able to restock 4000 alligators, 1800 crocodiles, and 1500 saltwater crocodiles thanks to the crocodile conservation initiative.

UNDP Sea Turtle Project

The  Project was launched in November 1999 by the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, for the conservation of Olive Ridley Turtles. The initiative is for ten coastal Indian states, particularly Orissa, where they worked on sea turtle breeding and habitat preservation to prevent unnatural deaths.

Apart from this, the Indian government has launched programs such as the Indian Rhino Vision 2020, Project Hangul 1970, Project Snow Leopard 2019, and others.

Conclusion

Animal laws in India were enacted decades ago and are no longer appropriate for society’s current socioeconomic situation. Animal rights advocates and various NGOs have been lobbying for changes to animal laws in India, but the authorities have taken no practical action thus far.

Moreover, under Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution, it is our responsibility to safeguard and preserve animal rights. Animal cruelty has escalated substantially over the years due to a lack of effective controls. By expanding the reach of Article 21 of the Indian constitution, the courts have played a critical role in defending animal rights.

Using animals for religious sacrifice or entertainment, or for any other activity that amounts to animal cruelty, should be avoided and made illegal. Every such practice should be thoroughly probed by the Animal Welfare Board, the government, the courts, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Animal life is not in the hands of humans, and we must coexist peacefully.

References


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