This article is written by Aarushi Gupta and Arya A.V.
India’s culture and tradition have a significant presence of animals. Many animals are the symbols of ferocity and courage, some others like dogs are silent ambassadors of companionship. Religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism have always preached kindness and compassion to animals. Each God of every religion is seen with an animal beside. The calf is seen both with lord Vishnu and Jesus Christ.
However, there has been an alarming increase in the inhumane treatment towards animals across India and it arises from our youth also. There are shocking videos in our social media that depict atrocities towards animals. This is a clear indication of a deeper problem that is rooted in our system. We are daily witnessing overloaded donkeys, bullock carts, attacked dogs on the roads. But we voluntarily ignore these views and remain silent, mainly because we are mostly not aware of the laws on animal cruelty and secondly we including human beings consider animals as commodities for our use. Some think that the animal welfare position holds that there’s nothing inherently wrong with using animals for human purposes, like food, clothing, entertainment, fun and research, but that it should be tired how that minimizes unnecessary pain and suffering, sometimes stated as “humane” treatment.
Broadly five spheres are covered that is slaughter houses, dairy animals, pet animals, street animals, use of animals in religious rituals. These are the realms where laws are often violated and people come in interaction with animals. This is the brief glimpse, how in the daily walk of life, individuals end up violating laws, land/apartment owners cannot ban their tenant’s dwellers to keep a pet at home; mandatory following of stunning procedure in slaughterhouses; how throwing garbage on the road not only does it violate cleanliness laws but also attracts animals laws; the practice of using a horse in the marriage, etc.
People propense that under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001 destruction of any animal for the purpose of food is permissible and under section 28 of Prevention to Cruelty Act, 1960 (PCA), to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community is not an offence. However, to shed some light at one more instance, people turn their back when it comes to the end number of laws, acts that have been constituted to protect animals going through agony and throb, before they are slaughtered.
According to Bharatiya Cattle Resource Development Foundation, New Delhi against 3,600 legal slaughterhouses in the country there are 32,000 illegal ones. The heart of the fuss behind this is that when these illegal slaughterhouses do not have license, they don’t have any legal permissions like NOC for waste management, pollution management etc. Moreover, common illegal practices include cramming animals into severely crowded trucks–which routinely causes suffocation and broken bones – marching animals to the place of sacrifice, and breaking their tails and beating them to keep them moving. It is jarring to note that according to the recent report of Food Safety and Standards Authority (FSSAI) of India, 40% of registered slaughterhouses failed in compliance with the slaughterhouse rules.
These reports are further corroborated by the Centre Pollution Control Board which highlighted that “Most of the slaughter houses in the country are very old and still in primitive condition. These units operate with inadequate basic amenities such as proper flooring, water supply etc.”. This paves to reach the conclusion that how animals are being kept in suffocated, unhygienic conditions and they have to go through unnecessary pain or suffering which is in violation of Section 11 of the PCA (which deals with the cruelty imposed on animals).
The health and condition of the animal is also very important. Animals that are pregnant, has an offspring less than three months old, is under the age of three months, has not been certified by a veterinary doctor that it is in a fit condition to be slaughtered are ineligible for slaughtering.
Another issue which merits scrutiny is the mental trauma, pain which livestock go through because slaughterhouses hunker down the legal procedure which needs to be followed before and during the process of killing. According to Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2010-Part IV, it is mandatory that no animal is slaughtered before the process of stunning and the system is well in place and effectively functional. Stunning can be affected through asphyxiating the animals with carbon dioxide, shooting them with a gun or a captive bolt pistol, or shocking them with electric current to make them unconscious. This is done in order to reduce pain, anxiety, fear amongst the animals. Addition to this there should be a separate space for the same and slaughtering of one animal cannot be done in front of another.
Even well-established slaughterhouses are ignorant or unacquainted with this procedure. In August 2016, a scrutiny of the Ghazipur slaughterhouse– which is said to be one of India’s largest run by a municipal corporation– was conducted by Satya Sharma, the Mayor of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) and it reported that stunning procedures are not being followed and they were being treated in inhumane manner. Animals are slaughtered by untrained workers who slit their throats with dull knives.
These are hardly some reports which are brought to the table. It can be easily contemplated that if such wretched, pitiful conditions are present in registered slaughterhouses (which are a minuscule percentage) then what would be the environment in unregistered slaughterhouses. The laws were formulated with a bang but resulted in a whimper.
Religious ritual of horse/elephant riding
There is a presence of blatant estrangement between the pleasure of a person and an animal. The prevalent religious rituals where horses and in some cases, elephants are rented for wedding barat has entrenched fissures for these naïve creatures. They are seethed with an unbearable pain.
Their miserable journey sets on right from the morning where they have to walk for 20-50kms for the venue. By the time they reach the venue, they are exhausted but then they are dressed. The saddle which is placed is a heavy throne and the groom along with his nephew sits on the horse. The music and the band are played at high decibel levels (animals are sensitive to sounds). The horse handler uses spoked bites which are made of iron chain and this rips apart the tongue and makes the gum bleed. According to the inspection done by Delhi Police and animal protection institution named PETA, as many as 50 spoked bites were stumbled upon.
The parlous situation which they have to endure where they are beaten, kept in unhygienic, small shed, over-loaded comes in for a special attention. According to a report by the National Research Centre on Equines (NREC) a lot of horses that were used in marriage ceremonies are infected with Glanders, a fatal equine disease. The reason behind this was the abysmal conditions in which they were kept. The diesease spread through the swelling below the jaws, infectious diseases from wounds.
Under Section 11(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, no person for any purpose can use any spiked stick or bit, harness or yoke with spikes, knobs or-projections or any other sharp tackle or equipment which causes or is likely to cause bruises, swellings, abrasions or severe pain to the animal. Even in the landmark judgment Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja and Ors 2014 laid down that every species has the right to be treated with compassion and dignity, free from unnecessary pain and suffering. It recognised five fundamental principles of animal welfare– (1) freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; (2) freedom from fear and distress; (3) freedom from physical pain and discomfort; (4) freedom from pain, injury and disease; and (5) freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour.
Through sporadic efforts, courts have targeted their guns at this instance. In Mumbai a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by Animal and Birds Charitable Trust (ABCT) in 2011, and a verdict was passed where horse-driven carriages/victorias chariots were banned. The agrarian distress which these animal goes through cannot be fathomed and there need to be the strict following to the rules and regulations laid down.
The viability of a pet being contented and exultant is quite bleak in India. Majority of the pet owners have two different strands of thought before and after their purchase. Pets have been always suited to the whims and fancies of humans. The discussion will be based on two broad arenas which is dogs, cats and birds as these are the major part of pet world. Primarily, let’s have a cursory look on dogs and cats. All animals in a puppy mills suffer however the parent dogs normally called ‘breeding stock’ endure cruelty all their lives. The females are repeatedly forced to mate and after 8 years when they can no longer breed, they are abandoned. The females suffer from several illness such as distended vaginas, clogged teats, etc.
To hunker down such diseases Section 5(3) of Prevention-of-Cruelty-to-Animals-Dog-Breeding-and-Marketing-Rules-2017(PCADM) states that no female dog should be exploited to produce litters in two consecutive seasons. They are kept in filthy and unhygienic conditions and are confined in small cages. The puppies are separated from their mothers at a very young age (20-40) days and as a result they have weak immunity. Females are also forced to mate to those who they are related, which means their brother or even children which is referred as inbreeding or incest breeding and it is in violation to the Section 6(3) of PCADM. All such gross incidents are taking place overtly. Recently Animal rights body PETA India on alleged that online portals OLX and Quikr are selling puppies under eight weeks old which is in violation of Section 8(a) of PCADM.
Most of the dog breeders are in the dark and inconsiderate of the fact that to ensure a smooth life for pets they sell, under Section8(g)(5) of PCADM it’s the breeder’s responsibility to keep track of all the pets sold and check their progress rate at least once in a year. People get swoon away and end up in buying a pet without realising the responsibilities which they have to hold. They are kept in close confinement, most of the time leashed, isolated, fails to provide sufficient food, water. According to report by Times of India, 90% of the people are not kind to animals and over 60% of these animals die. Under Section 11(g) and Section11(h) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act a person cannot keep his pet tethered or chained upon an unreasonably short cord or chain for unreasonably long time. Moreover, they should be provided with sufficient basic amenities.
These pet owners act as proverbial villains when they abandon them for irrational and irreconcilable reasons. To cite an instance, where a three-year-old Pomeranian was found abandoned with a letter attached to its collar in Thiruvananthapuram. In the note, the owner said that they are fed up with the pet’s “illicit relationship” with a dog in the neighbourhood and they have no option other than abandoning it. Such are the vague reasons presented.
On one hand there is an exponential upsurge in the number of customers purchasing pets and on other hand there is an equal upswing of pet owners shredding the life of their dogs and cats. In fact, a report by Times of India states that Mumbai saw a double fold increase in pet abandonment. And According to Abhinav Srihan, Fauna Police member and animal rights activist, says at least one pedigreed dog is abandoned in the Capital every day. Under Section 11(i) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, a person without reasonable clause cannot abandon any animal which tender it likely that it will suffer in pain by reason of starvation or thirst.
Furthermore, many people prefer to keep birds as pets as it proves out to be less expensive. The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, prohibits the birds that are listed in Schedule IV of the Act and keeping them as pets can invite a jail term of up to six years or a fine of over Rs 5,000.
Notwithstanding of these laws, 300 species of birds are openly sold in markets which includes mynhas, parrots, peacocks and parakeets. Parrots comprise of 50% birds trade in India. According to a report by Times of India parrots mostly include Indian hanging parrot(lorikeet) and the rose ringed parakeet which are not allowed to be kept as pets according to the Schedule IV list number 39 and 50 respectively. As per statistics provided by Forest Department in 2018, more than 2,000 birds were rescued form Coimbatore in last 3 years.
These are the glimpse of some landmark cases which turned the sad pages of birds history. In the case of People for Animals v. M D Mohazzim & Anr, held that: birds have fundamental right to live and they cannot be subjected to human cruelty by keeping them in cages. In Muhammadbhai Jalalbhai Serasiya v. State of Gujarat, held that to keep birds in cages would tantamount to illegal confinement of the birds which is in violation of right of the birds to live in free air/sky.
Ominous clouds have gathered over our street animals which are casting shadows of malady and sorrow. Individuals nit-pick when some wayward people hit street animals, burst crackers, or perform any explicit reckless behaviour. Though all these actions are unlawful (under Section 428 of Indian penal code, whoever commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless any animals or animal of the value of the ten rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both) and gain sympathy of public in large, however we often neglect other aspects of viciousness behaviour to street animals.
Majority of the general public offer food to cows, dogs, etc. in polythene or similar material. Along with the food they also consume the polythene which is toxic to them and does not bode well for their body. Cows which ingest plastic are not able to eat proper food after that. Moreover, according to the report by The Hindu, main reason behind increase in stray dog numbers in Kerala is the careless waste disposal methods, frequently dumped in sacks by poultry traders and meat shops. This could result in fatal diseases and disorders such as anorexia, starvation, constipation, and may be finally death, According to the report of Blue Cross India 90% of the cows in Chennai have plastic waste in their guts. What is more to add here is that when people litter around the garbage, on which street animals feed poses far reaching deadly health consequences. In the last five years, magistrates caught 87,784 people found littering in Delhi– on the spot. Statistics show that in five years, challans were issued to 55,929 people for throwing solid waste in drains. In India, 80 % of total plastic consumption is discarded as waste and official statistics say the country generates 25, 940 tonnes of plastic waste daily. At least 40% of this waste is uncollected.
Not only does littering in itself is a punishable offence under sections 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) and 270 (Malignant act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the IPC but also this deed attracts some more violation of legal provisions. Feeding an animal in this manner or littering around paves way to consumption of toxic, harmful food substances by these creatures. Such kind of food acts as a slow poison. It is a kind of injury: when such food material is provided then it paves for end number of diseases as mentioned above and they are tortured as they have to endure unnecessary pain. Thus, a person can be charged under Section 11(a) for unnecessary suffering or pain to the animals according to Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
Across the length and breadth of the country, livestock or pre-dominantly dairy animals are seethed with agrarian distress and unbearable pain. In India, many individuals deploy the ammunition that killing of animals for food is torturous but this line of reasoning will begin to crumble, when the mayhem situations which dairy animals go through will be covered in this article. Though the pervasive illegal use of chemical Oxytocin has been frequently brought to the table which is injected for production of more milk and causes hormonal imbalances, cancer, etc., however other arenas are not looked upon.
At the outset, animals are impregnated repeatedly at least once in a year. People commit heinous offence when they separate the calf as soon as after birth or even after just 3-4 days. These calves are offered limited suckling and substitute of milk constituents and such practises are unlawful under Section 14(i) Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of livestock market) Rules 2016[PCAR]. Moreover, their mothers agitatedly call them and they suffer mental trauma. Calves are tied with the short ropes and their mouth is tied so that they cannot cry.
The former chairperson of Amul admitted that each year in Mumbai 80,000 calves are put to death. According to a report by PETA, buffaloes in metropolitan cities like Delhi and Mumbai are kept in unhygienic condition lying around their excreta, suffering from skin infections, etc. When such developed cities have such miserable conditions then it could be easily estimated the state of other places. Keeping animals tethered on a short rope for unreasonable period, under thirst or starvation, inadequate ventilation is in violation of Section 15 of PCAR.
Furthermore, these animals are poorly fed and, on many instances, they are left on streets, leading to an unhealthy diet. Section 19 of PCAR describes that animal should be provided with adequate and wholesome amount of food, water after each cycle of 6 hours. Individuals are completely oblivious of the recent laws where painting horns, decorating animals through objects and ornaments, tying ropes around penis, casting animals on hard ground without adequate bedding (during farriery), nose-cutting or ear slitting or cutting by knife or hot iron marking for identification purposes other than by veterinarian, tying nose bags as feeding troughs is in violation of the PCAR act under Section 14.
Although, on one hand India has one of the finest animal welfare laws but on other hand the fauna of our country is highly prone to cruelty and harassment. In recent years, certain arenas have been addressed but many other issues are neglected upon. This article aimed to put forward such derelict occurrences. Furthermore, statistics, figures have been mentioned to conclude that how in large scale such instances are taking place and yet no action has taken place.
Besides that, the penalty and punishment which is imposed is far less than the offences which are committed. Such lacunas need to be filled to reduce such offences.
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