“When it comes to pain, love, joy, loneliness, and fear, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife.”
-Ingrid Newkirk, PETA Founder

We all are quite aware of our rights as human beings, the rights that have been granted to us under the Constitution, the protection it entails us and the guarantee we have of a good life. But we are not the only living beings on this planet. We are merely a part of the biodiversity consisting of animals and plants, and as the most advanced creatures, it is our duty to not just think about our own rights, but ensure that our fellow beings on Earth, the animals, also have rights and those are protected.

Lately, we have seen a rise in animal violence around us. From feeding a pregnant elephant cracker laden food to throwing a dog off a bridge by tying its limbs. We have laws protecting us, but what law protects them?

Globally, there are numerous organisations for the welfare and protection of animal rights, the most popular one being People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA is an organisation that works through public education, animal rescue, research, cruelty investigations, special involvement, protest campaigns and legislations. Other such organisations include World Animal Protection, International Organisation for Animal Protection (OIPA), etc.

Further, animal protection has been incorporated in the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. However, as of now, there are no global legislations for animal protection or welfare. Presently though, there is a push for a Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare which is an agreement among people and nations to recognise that animals are sentient and can suffer, to respect their welfare needs and to end animal cruelty.

Animal Welfare in India

In our country, the most supreme law is the Indian Constitution. It deals with the rights and duties of citizens and the state, citizenship and every aspect of governance. Part IV of the Constitution deals with Directive Principles of State Policy, which are guidelines that the State must keep in mind while framing laws and policies, and fundamental duties of the citizens. Under that, Article 48 A imposes a responsibility on the State to ensure protection of the environment and wildlife of the country. Further, Article 51A which deals with fundamental duties imposes a duty on all the citizens under clause (g) to have compassion for all living creatures.

Along with this, there are some statutes which protect animal and punish their abuse. They are:

A. The Indian Penal Code:
IPC, the substantive criminal law of our country, deals with animal abuse under Sections 428 and 429. Section 428 penalises killing or maiming animals with imprisonment of up to 1 year or fine or both. Sec 429 going a step further punishes anyone killing, maiming, poisoning, cattle rendering it useless with imprisonment of up to 5 years or fine or both.

B. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960:
This Act is the major piece of legislation dealing with animal welfare. It was passed in the year 1960, replacing the Act of the same name from 1890, to prevent infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering of animals. This Act defines “animals” in Section 2(a) as any living creature other than a human being. The Act contains 41 sections systematically divided into 6 chapters.

Table 1: Chapter-wise description of the Act

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, there are a lot of rules issued. Some of them are:

1. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Licensing of Farriers) Rules, 1965:
This rule requires every farrier, i.e., a person carrying on the business of shoeing cattle, to be licensed. The license shall be issued by the licensing authority as prescribed by the State Government for a period of 2 years. Post this, the license shall be renewed every 2 years. Under the Act, the application fee for the license is Re. 1.

2. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Draught and Pack Animals) Rules, 1965 as amended in 1986:
Draught animals are strong working animals that are used to carry load, plough, etc. Examples are bullocks, donkeys, ponies, etc. This rule lays down particularly how draught animals need to be treated. The contents of this rule include,

  • in a tabulated form, how much weight each kind of draught animal may be allowed to carry;
  • Work hours for a draught animal are laid down as maximum 9 hours a day with a break between 12 noon to 3 pm and not more than 5 hours of work at a stretch;
  • Maximum number of passengers aboard an animal drawn vehicle to be 4;
  • No person shall use a spiked stick, rope etc. to cause the animal any kind of bruising or pain cause the animal to draw the vehicle;
  • Animal to be disengaged from harness, rope, etc. when not working.

3. Prevention of Cruelty (Capture of Animals) Rules, 1972:
This Rule was made available to the public in the year 1979. It lays down the method of capture of birds and animals for the purpose of sale or export. In case of birds, they may only be captured by using a net and in case of animals, only the sack and loop method may be used unless the animal is too big for the method, in which case, a tranquilizer gun maybe used to render the animal unconscious before capture.

4. Performing Animals Rules, 1973:
This Rule lays down the procedure to be followed by anyone who wants to register their animals for training and performing at exhibits for a price. The fee for registration, under the rule, is Rs. 25.

5. Transport of Animals Rules, 1978:
This Rule is divided into 9 chapters, wherein 1 deals with the preliminary information, 9 deals with miscellaneous general provisions and 2-8 deals with basic steps to be followed before transporting any animal. List of animals it covers are:
Chapter 2: Dogs and Cats;
Chapter 3: Monkeys;
Chapter 4: Cattle i.e., cows, bulls, bullocks, buffaloes, yaks and calves;
Chapter 5: Equines i.e., comprise of horses, mules and donkeys;
Chapter 6: Sheep and Goats
Chapter 7: Poultry
Chapter 8: Pigs

The schedule to the rule gives the format for the fitness certificates which are required for each kind of animal before transportation.

6. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Application of Fines) Rules, 1978:
This Rule provides that any fine collected by the State Government under the parent Act shall be passed on to the Animal Welfare Board established under said Act after due appropriation and the Board shall further utilise it to provide financial assistance to animal welfare societies within the state and to maintain infirmaries, veterinary hospitals and pinjrapoles set up in the respective state.

7. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Registration of Cattle Premises) Rules, 1978:
This Rule requires every person owning more than 5 cattle-heads for the purpose of profit, to register with the respective state or local authorities by furnishing details regarding number of animals, area available for them, provisions for food, water, dung disposal, etc. This rule, however, applies only in cities or towns with population exceeding one lakh.

8. Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1998:
This rule requires every breeder who engages in breeding of or trading of animals for the purpose of experimentation to be registered with the Committee for the Supervision of Experiments on Animals established under Sec 15 of the parent Act. It also lays down the basic requirements to be followed by every institution that experiments on animals.

9. Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001:
This particular Rule deals with breeding and sterilisation of dogs. It classifies dogs into 2 categories- pet dogs, the responsibility of their mating, immunisation and sterilisation being with the owner, and street dogs, which shall be sterilised by animal welfare organisations, private individuals and local authorities. It provides for the establishment of a committee which will make plans for management of stray dogs and oversee the implementation. This rule specifically requires that stray dogs that are captured by dog catchers shall be sterilised and released back where it was found. It also provides for euthanizing incurably ill dogs and isolating rabid dogs.

10. Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001:
Any person who intends to train his pet to perform at exhibitions or events has to register under the Board prescribed by the Central or State Government. The fee for registration is prescribed at Rs. 500 under the Act. Further anyone intending to lend their pet for films, etc. has to intimate the authorities prior to any such arrangements being made. This rule also lays certain general conditions for registration and upkeep of these animals that have to be fulfilled under Section 8.

11. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Establishment and Regulation of Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Rules, 2001:
This Rule imposes on the State Government to establish Societies for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in every district within the state to ensure the implementation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and set up infirmaries and animal shelters. The managing committee of such a society shall comprise of at least 2 member representing animal welfare associations in the area and two others elected by the members of the SPCA.

12. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001 as amended in 2010:
This Rule provides for the licensing of slaughter houses and the requirements to be met at every slaughter house regarding adequate space for the animals, ventilation, light, separation of the slaughter area and the animal pen, etc. It also provides that no animal that is pregnant, that has an offspring below 3 months of age, that isn’t over 3 months of age or that isn’t deemed to be fit for slaughtered by a vet, shall be slaughtered.

13. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Transport of Animals on Foot) Rules, 2001:
This Rule lays down health conditions and other sociological and psychological conditions for animals that need to be satisfied if the animals are intended to be transported on foot for over 5 km.

14. Dog Breeding and Marketing Rules, 2017:
This Rule requires every breeder to register himself and have the place that he intends to use for breeding and sale of the dog duly inspected by authorities. Further, no dog can be sold which is less than 8 weeks of age and if it is over 6 months, without being vaccinated. It also imposes a responsibility on the breeder to maintain records of the puppies born including colour, micro-chip number, gender, buyer details etc. The breeder also has to ensure that the buyer is familiar with taking care of the dog.

15. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules, 2017:
Any animal seized under the parent Act due to improper care by the owner, or any animal abandoned shall be taken in by the local authorities, SPCAs or Animal Welfare Board and their maintenance is governed by this rule.

16. Pet Shop Rules, 2018:
Every Pet Shop has to be registered under this Rule. It lays down the infrastructural conditions, capacity, space, general care, veterinary care and all other basic provisions that have to be available at pet shops.

If we observe, however, the parent Act and most of the rules under it seem quite out dated and not fitting for the present generation. For instance, the punishment for animal abuse is a meagre sum between Rs. 10 and 100 which is quite a negligible amount. Further, the law doesn’t penalise capture of animals, it merely sets restrictions on how to capture. Cruelty is not completely abolished, it is regulated and in the 21st century when equity is primary, when rights of everyone are being observed and respected, it’s about time that these voiceless creatures also be heard. We don’t own them, we merely coexist with them. There is a need to recognise them as legal entities and giving them actual rights for which the People’s Charioteer Organisation has filed a PIL before the Supreme Court which is yet to be heard. But until such day as they get their due rights, we as common citizens, future lawyers or simply animal lovers, have to speak for them, protect their rights and ensure no one abuses the law safeguarding them.


Moushami Nayak
7th Semester B.Com LLB
BMS College of Law, Bengaluru