“We must fight against the spirit of unconscious cruelty with which we treat the animals. Animals suffer as much as we do. True humanity does not allow us to impose such sufferings on them. It is our duty to make the whole world recognize it. Until we extend our circle of compassion to all living things, humanity will not find peace.”
– Albert Schweitzer
What makes a human being different from animals? This has an obvious answer that we humans have brains and can use them to our advantage, we are conscious about our surroundings, we can understand our good or bad and can form rational decisions which can favor us but this doesn’t make animals a less of a living being, they are very much part of our planet. They have feelings and emotions just like us. They can observe their surroundings and can reflect their emotions in their behavior. Unlike God, we humans have not created them and so we don’t have any right to intrude on their existence on the earth. In recent times, there have been many debates regarding the protection and recognition of the rights of animals. People in the contemporary world, are more concerned and aware of the rights and protection of animals, the sensitive attitude of people has helped in a crucial way to enforce many ‘Animal Protection Laws’ in India. Some of the laws are briefly mentioned below:
THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA
Article 51A (g) Fundamental Duties: It states that it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including wildlife and to have compassion for other living creatures on this planet. In one of the significant cases, the Supreme Court held Article 51A (g) as the “Magna Carta of animal rights”.
DPSP Article 48 and Article 48(A): The state shall take necessary steps to protect, improve and preserve the wildlife and has prohibited the slaughter of cows and calves. It has been directed to protect and safeguard the wildlife of the country.
Article 21 Right to Life: This article guarantees the right to life and personal liberty of a person and no person shall be deprived of it in any situation, except according to the procedure established by law. The Supreme Court has bought this article in the ambit of animal rights in one of the most prominent cases, Animal Welfare Board Of India vs A. Nagaraja & Ors. , where the court has expressly banned the use of bulls and bullocks in the entrainment activities such as Jallikattu, bullfights and animal racing, etc. Where the court said that the ‘animals have right against the infliction of pain’. Here, it not only protects and safeguards human beings but also includes all kinds of ‘life’.
Article 428 & 429 of the Indian Penal Code: Any person who commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming, or rendering useless any animal of the value of the ten rupees or upwards and fifty rupees or upwards shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years or five years respectively, or with fine, or with both.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
The primary aim of the act is to protect animals from any kind of torture, infliction, and hurt and to safeguard them from any kind of harm. Some of the significant provisions of Section 11 which prohibit a man from doing several acts are:
- Beating, kicking, over-riding, over-driving, over-loading, or torturing any animal which may cause them to hurt or severe injury.
- Willfully and unreasonably administers any injurious drug to animals.
- Keeping an animal in a place or a cage in which it doesn’t have a sufficient place to breathe or move or keeping the animal chained for an unreasonable period of time.
- being the owner of an animal fails to provide such animal with sufficient food, drink, or shelter.
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001
The act specifically prohibits the slaughtering of animals except in licensed slaughtering houses. Some of the important provisions of the act are:
- No animal shall be slaughtered in a slaughterhouse in sight of other animals.
- No owner or occupier of a slaughterhouse shall engage a person in slaughtering animals unless he possesses a valid license or authorization issued by the municipal or other local authority and no person shall be employed below the age of 18 years.
- The Animal Welfare Board of India may inspect any slaughterhouse without notice.
- No animal shall be slaughtered who is pregnant or has an offspring below the age of three months.
The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules 1945, Rule 148-C expressly states that no person shall use animals for the purpose of testing cosmetics.
THE WILDLIFE (PROTECTION) ACT, 1972 prohibits killing, poaching, and hunting of wild animals. According to schedule I, a person will be imprisoned for a term of 7 years or Rs. 25000 fine, if found killing an animal. According to Section 38(H), a zoo can operate in India only after formal approval by the Central Zoo Authority.
In one of the celebrated cases of the Bombay High court PETA v. Union of India, it was held that before using an animal for any entertainment purpose like filming or shooting, one has to take a non-Objection certificate from the Animal Welfare Board. This was a very significant judgement in terms of the safety of animals. In another case, Naveen Raheja v. Union of India [(2001) 9 SCC 762], the Supreme Court was in utter shock when it dealt with the facts of the case where a tiger in a zoo was starved to death in Andhra Pradesh, the court was astonished by the heinous act of the mankind and has summoned the officer of the Central Zoo Authority. In the case of N.R. Nair And Ors vs Union Of India And Ors., the Kerala High court upheld the guidelines of the Ministry of Environment and Forest and has expressly forbidden the training of animals like bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, and lions and has protected them from being the performing animals. So, these were a few of the celebrated cases of the Indian courts on protecting and safeguarding the rights of the animals. They are the other living creatures on this planet and have full rights to live, survive and enjoy living here and we as a human should learn to be a little more sensitive and kinder towards them, in order to make this planet a better place for them to live.
“This is what an animal rights philosophy is really about. Understanding the importance of recognizing that all animals have an inherent right not to be abused by us and then following the ethical path this understanding leads us to is special indeed.”
– John F. Kullberg
Author’s Name: Vidushi Nandi (Maharaja Agrasen Institute of Management Studies, GGSIP University)