Animal Rights in India

 “I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being.” ~ Abraham Lincoln To keep up with the optimism from the previous chapter, this segment further uncovers a major contribution to this optimism. Every aware person is contributing his part for the betterment of stray animals using the resources available with them. India being the biggest democracy in this world, holds its responsibility towards every section of the society. The idea of democracy consists of people demanding development and growth from the leaders in exchange of their votes. The representatives have the right to take decisions on the behalf of the citizens of the whole country. If unsatisfied with any rule or judgment, citizens have the right to oppose and withdraw their votes in the next elections. Apart from the formation of government, the judiciary system is also a crucial part of Indian democracy. Together the judiciary and the government, have the ultimate power to unfold a new element in the country. The power to withdraw or form a law reside with them making them the most powerful entities or pillars of a democracy. The public have to abide by the law lest they can be at the risk of imprisonment, fine or any other serious action. Due to the power of making laws and oblige the public to follow them, the government and the legal system of India makes them very important to play a serious role in improvement of the life of stray animals. People give shelter, provide food, medically treat, stand against cruelties like slaughtering and dog meat, out of love, respect and affection. The government must do the ‘dos’ and undo the ‘don’ts’ out of its sole duty and responsibility. The evolvement of India involved how, with time, people have started to look after and let the fellow creature share the resources nature has gifted. It discussed the use of developing education and internet and how it is diverted to enlighten the issues of stray animals. The government is a body which is existing in India from mid-90s. Previously, it had some key issues of poverty, shelter, scarcity of food, over growing population, increasing crime which kept it engaged. Laws were to be formed to bring discipline in the society. There were fewer departments and lesser division of work in the judicial system. Less number of people heartily joined politics and judiciary. Thus, the lack of resources and awareness compelled the system to keep its mind focused on the much demanding ‘human issues’. With the passage of time, the scenario changed. The involvement of more people bought the issue of stray animals in limelight. The government started focusing upon the related matters. The realization that some rules need to be laid down to control the chaos and the barbaric tortures towards stray animals. It is very crucial that every person in the country is aware of the rights and rules formed for the animals. These rules are not limited to strays but most of these rules and laws apply to the wildlife and to all animals in general. The beginning of this was embarked by the formation of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 (PCA act). The law concentrates on relieving the animals against all kinds of cruelties and tortures on them. Different sections and sub sections of the act deal with different forms of animal sufferings. Article 51A (g) of the constitution also states that every citizen of India has the fundamental duty of demonstrating compassion towards all the living creatures including stray animals. What should it be called? A fortunate or a pitiful situation? India is bound to make articles and laws for defining humanity, for defining the feeling of compassion which is the part of human formation. While some people don’t need articles and don’t consider it as a duty, the article was, although, formed in the hope that the others may fulfill it by considering it merely as a duty. Section 11 is described in chapter III of the PCA act. The section deals with ‘general cruelty towards animals.’ It is a major section and contains the details regarding most of the animal cruelty instances. The section states any “unnecessary pain or suffering” as punishable and illegal. Under this section, it is illegal to feed stray animals with poisonous food under all circumstances. A person found doing so can be charged and punished in any part of the country. Section 11(1) (m) (ii) and Section 11(1) (n) of PCA act recognize participation and organization of animal fights as a criminal offence. There are many people who neglect stray animals and intentionally deny them for food, and water. They intend to clutch the shelter of these animals and purposefully keep them chained and tied for long hours at confined places. Section 11 (f) describes this as a punishable offence and can be fined or imprisoned for up to 3 months or both for the same. Section 11(b) mentions that it is punishable to employ any animal who is unfit to work. Old aged, ill, injured and under nutritioned animals must not be compelled to do work. Section 11(k) states that sale of animals who are starving, ill and not in satisfactory condition is illegal. Section 11 (1) (a) puts a stringent prohibition on torturing, over loading, beating, kicking and over-riding animals. Under section 11 (1) (c), intentionally or unreasonably enforcing hazardous and painful substances to animals is punishable offence. Owners unable to provide their pets with sufficient food, water and shelter is considered offensive under 11 (1) (h). it is also punishable if the owner of any animal keeps it chained up for most of time and denies for required exercise under 11 (1) (g). 11 (1) (e) makes it compulsory to cage the animals with sufficient height, length, breadth and space to enable them to move freely and live without any pain. Also transporting of animals must also be done in such cages. Failure to do so is illegal and punishable. In 2018, Uttarakhand high court accorded the status to all the animals in the northern state as ‘legal person or entity’. This was done so the people develop an affection towards the ‘animal kingdom’ of Uttarakhand. The court passed a message to the Supreme Court to be harsh on all kinds of hunters, poachers and those who harm the wildlife in any sense. The court declared the natives of the state as the guardians of the ‘animal kingdom’ and must be responsible for their protection and welfare. An important decision was passed by the court which banned the use of spikes and sharp tools on animals used in farming and agriculture fields. It also stated that no animal must be demanded for high intensity physical work such as drawing vehicles when the temperature exceeds 37 degrees or go below 5 degrees. Such temperatures are extreme for animals and is not optimum for them to work. Section 428 and 429 of the same act makes it illegal to cause harm or injury to the stray animals by any means. This also includes the purposeful killing of the stray animals by being run over by vehicles. The culprit, hence, shall be fined for at least 2000Rs. Or jailed for up to five years. Section 22 (ii) and 26 prohibits the use of animals for entertainment purposes in circuses and on streets. Dogs, bears, tigers, panthers, monkeys, lions, elephants, bulls and many other animals are harassed in the name of amusement. The fine can be up to Rs 500 or imprisonment for three months or both. The Performing Animal Rules, 1973 also bans the use of animals for entertainment purposes without registration under the act. Animal welfare board of India vs. A Nagaraja and ors is a known case based on an active debate on whether to give dominion to culture or animals. Jallikattu is a renowned sport played in the state of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and nearby states. It is a very intense part of the culture of these states. The sport includes group of men who try to take out coins tied on bulls. It is a chance for the men to showcase their bravery by fighting with raged bulls. The bulls are released into the crowd and multiple people fight with the bull to fetch the tied coin. The sport is related to a high level of cruelty towards bulls, although the state denies to. The bulls are denied for food and tempted to fight aggressively in the ground. They are administered with irritating chemicals in their eyes and noses and a powder is applied in their private parts to incite them for running and make the sport difficult. They are harassed, beaten, poked and jumped on by many people. They often have twisted and bitten tails and go through extreme trauma, threat, mental and physical pain. Taking regard of this cruelty, the Supreme Court diverted its attention towards this sport. The Tamil Nadu registration declared Jallikattu as legal and fair on terms of not harming the culture and traditions of any state. A petition was filed against the registration and to put an end to the sport. While it is considered as a ‘celebration’ in Tamil Nadu and other states, the Supreme Court banned it as ‘untold cold- bloodedness’. The supporters of sport argued that it does not harm the bulls and it is traditional right and custom. In reality, the court opinioned that it violates section 3, 11 (1) (m), 11 (1) (n), 11 (1) (a) and 22 of PCAA and article 51A (g) of the constitution. The state strived hard to conserve the originality of the sport by giving many arguments. The court, however, gave its final judgment and banned the use of bulls for such sport and inciting them for fights and causing them pains. The Supreme Court, furthermore, also expanded the scope of Article 21 of the Constitution of India to give space in its purview to animal life. It insisted that the animals have a ‘life’ to be lived rather than considered to be as a ‘mere survival or existence or instrumental value for human beings.” There are ‘five freedoms’ specified by the court in this regard which every welfare board and state governments must spare no effort to apply. These freedoms include the freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from pain, injury and disease; freedom from discomfort; freedom from fear and distress and freedom to express normal behavior. These freedoms apply fundamentally and are also recognized internationally by World Health Organization of Animal Health, Universal Declaration of Animal Welfare and Food and Agricultural Organization. Cosmetic testing on animals is increasing day by day at a rapid rate. It was mentioned in detail previously in chapter 2. To put an end to this ill treatment, a rule is defined in the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (Second Amendment), 2014. Rule 148-c and 135-b of the act puts a complete ban on the test of cosmetics on animals and the import of animal tested cosmetics. Also, dissection and experiments on animals in all schools is banned under PCAA. To look into the matter of drug testing more deeply, a committee was set up under the provisions of PCAA. The committee had a sole purpose of controlling and supervising such experiments on animals. The punishment includes jail for 3 to 10 years and a fine of Rs 500 up to Rs 10000 or both. The Animal Birth Control (dog) rules, 2001 (ABC rules, 2001) is also provisioned under PCA Act. The rules clearly state that no individual must intend to kill or relocate any street dog to control the population and reduce the risk of rabies. The rules mention that the issue of birth control is the responsibility of local authorities through birth control programme. Such initiatives are to be headed by these authorities only consisting safe sterilization, vaccination and immunation processes. Hence, no individual has the right to relocate or kill street dogs in the name of birth control. The result of doing so is considered offensive and punishable. In 2011, there was a ‘state –central tiff’, the reason being the killing of stray dogs. The Bombay municipal commission (BMC)’s provisions and the ABC rules, 2001 stood against each other. The BMC aimed to remove the ‘nuisance’ from the streets. They argued that the street dogs bark 24 hours and cause disturbance to the societies and municipalities. It allowed such ‘unclaimed’ dogs to be killed to curb such ‘nuisance’. The ABC rules, however, strictly prohibit the killing of street dogs for such reasons. This disagreement made its way to the Mumbai high court where three judges were seated to solve the issue. There was a long discussion among the three judges. While one of them showed a strong favor to only kill the ‘incurably ill’ and mortally wounded ones, the other two were admitted to undo such ‘nuisance’ which is to harm human population under any circumstance. The Mumbai high court, finally inclined their decision towards BMC. The decision of the court was immediately challenged in Supreme Court through a petition. The party who challenged gave the reference of PCA act and ABC (dogs) rules. It is said that killing is not a solution to the control the hazard and the population of street dogs. There are approved ways which included scientific sterilization and vaccination. It also claimed that no state legislature can override the acts and rules laid down by the parliament and when a central rule has been laid down for a field, it must be awarded with utmost primacy. They said that such act of killing also violates Article 51A of the constitution. The petition was filed by Animal Welfare board, Central government and ministry of environment and forests. The final decision of the court stood pending for a long time but the subsequent hearings went in favor of the petitioners and the so called innocent ‘nuisance’ creators. Recently, there is a rise in the cases regarding the shifting of the stray animals because the households were scared of being suffered by rabies. According to several high court orders, it is illegal to relocate the sterilized stray animals out from their area. In case of the unvaccinated stray animals, the societies must ask the animal welfare societies for sterilization. Not only the rules and laws, the upliftment of animal welfare and encouragement followed the rise of Animal Welfare Board of India in 1962. The board is an independent statutory advisory body taking care of ending the cruelties towards animals. Various steps have been taken by the board which run parallel to the rules and animal welfare acts. A circular was passed in 2015 by the board to make sure that no street dogs are killed or relocated from their areas and shelters aiming for birth control. The rule was passed in parallel to PCA Act, 1960. The circular made a formal appeal to the concerned state and central government to look after the increasing cases of killing and people throwing street dogs out of their streets. The board asked the cantonment authority to strictly implement ABC rules, 2001 within their controlled cantonments. As an additional support to the section preventing people from feeding poisonous or hazardous food to the animals, the Animal Welfare Board of India came up with the idea of issuing identity cards to stray animal feeders. The thought had a purpose of keeping the animal haters away from the innocent ones. According to food safety and standards regulations, 2011 and rule 3 of PCA act, all the animals must be slaughtered only in a slaughter house under hygienic and safe conditions. It also states that sick and pregnant animals must not be slaughtered in any case. Also, rule 3 of slaughterhouse rules, 2001 makes it completely illegal to sacrifice animals under any religious activity in any part of the country. The Wildlife Protection Act was enacted by the parliament of India in 1972. It came into existence on 9th September 1972. The aim of the act was to protect all kinds of plants and animals and form related laws and rules. The act is not limited to stray or pet animals, rather it has much widened and generic scope. It constitutes several acts and sections under it, which are recognized in the whole country. The act was extended to all over India except Jammu and Kashmir at the date of enactment. The act has six schedules and is a major supporter of animals against various kinds of activities. Zoos are famous for they enable people to take a pleasant look at different varieties and species of animals and birds. However, the conditions in which the animals live there is not always pleasant to watch. According to section 38J of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, it is punishable offence to tease, lock, torture, and disturb the animals at zoo with a fine of 25000 INR with an imprisonment of up to three years. All zoos in India can only function with recognition of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) according to section 38H. CZA is establishes by the central government of India provided under section 38A of the Wildlife Protection Act. The institution is responsible for managing the functioning of zoos all over the country. It recognizes and derecognizes zoos, forms advisory and regulatory guidelines and specify minimum standards to be kept in mind while captive breeding of different animals inside the zoo. It also prescribes rules to ensure scientific and safe management of the zoo such as provision of sufficient area for the animals to move freely and a healthy and naturalistic environment to them. Section 9 of the Wildlife Protection Act strictly prohibits hunting wild animals. The act is punishable for imprisonment for 3 years and fine of up to 25000 INR. The act grants permission to the central and state governments to declare the areas covered under wildlife sanctuaries and national parks as ‘restricted’. No industrial and commercial settlement is regarded as illegal in the boundaries of these ‘restricted’ areas. The transportation of any wild animals and birds is against the law under section 48A. Such transportation for special purposes should only be done after taking permission from the chief wildlife warden or similar authorities issues by the board in correspondence to the state government. The Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) is a statutory authority working under the act. CWLW is the official head of the wildlife wing and the administrative work within a state. Section 49 outlaws the purchase of wild animals without a license. Schedules 1-4 of the act are specific to marine animals. These schedules specifies all those marine animals which are protected under this act. Examples include sea horses, organ pipe, fire coral, sea fans, etc. Schedule III protects all kinds of sponges while schedule IV constitutes the species of mollusks. Dolphins have secured a special place in the heart of India. They are recognized as the national aquatic animal of India. Schedule I places a ban on the use of dolphins for entertainment purposes and capturing them in confined places like dolphinariums. Section 16 (c) of the act mentions destroying, damaging and disturbing wild birds, reptiles, their nests and eggs as illegal activity. It defines the punishment of such act as an imprisonment of up to 7 years or a heavy penalty. Section 11 (o) prohibits participation and promotion in/of shooting competitions and matches. The emergence of the era of these laws and regulations is appreciable. The loopholes in the working of these laws is, nevertheless, quite inevitable. The list of these loopholes is not limited, rather they are much more than they should have naturally been. The first question is the extent to which the penalties apply. These penalties are already specified for every illegal act. There must be a proportionality between the penalty and offences. At present, there can be seen a lack of such proportionality. There are two types of forfeits, one is the monetary punishment and other is the physical or mental imprisonment. The offences such as slaughtering and torturing are very harsh but the monetary penalty decided for the same is very minimal. A well to do person will hardly give a thought of spending 50 bucks as penalty before driving over his car over a stray dog. The motive of stating penalties was based on the conviction of imparting a sense of fear and remain alarmed and alert to avoid such crimes. A three month imprisonment for slaughtering and killing an animal stands nowhere when compared to the offence conducted. Giving 50 or 100 bucks or staying in the jail for a month or two is no big deal for a person who has no respect for the animals. These penalties do not scare the public. Thus, the application of the fines has somewhere failed to accomplish its motive of punishing and preventing such offences. In august 2016, a political party’s MP moved a private bill in the parliament to amend PCA act. The bill asked for more stringent rules and detailed the need to redefine the punishments. It placed special emphasis on section 11 of the act and the penalties decided under the same. Since it was a private member bill, the chances of it being passed are very meagre. Such private bills are not highly noticeable and have lower chances of being even discussed and debated in the sessions. The righteous implementation of rules has always been a weak thread of Indian judiciary. A lot of rules are made and enclosed in the rule books but many of them are hardly used and implemented. Corruption and carelessness plays their part very well in the process. The culprits, once caught, do not get even get the specified punishment. In any fortunate case where the offenders are jailed for an adequate length of time, they successfully use the power of money and fame to get away easily and walk off with a smile. Many authorities consider it as a waste to spend their time on solving cases relating to death, slaughtering and injuring of animals. Hundreds of animals get driven over and are starved to death lying on roads and footpaths. The police can hardly collect witnesses in such cases due to ignorance of the public while most of them go unreported. It is the benefaction of the rising amount of animal activists and institutions that such cases get some limelight and help the culprit get punished for their doing. There are some people who don’t even know that their country has such rules and acts made specifically for the betterment of the animals. This lack of awareness about the laws that exist is also a reason for the injustice faced by the animals. The legal procedures are also very lengthy. It takes two minutes to run over an animal or injure them but it takes two weeks, two months or even two years to fine and punish the wrongdoer. The amount of paperwork involved in the process is discontenting. Some animal loving law amateurs often ask that when the witness is there, the culprit is there, the crime is done and the punisher is there, what the court is waiting for? But for those who understand law, the fault lies not in the court but the procedure that lies within which is a prerequisite and cannot be ignored. PCAA is the ‘benchmark’ forming the base for every other animal cruelty related laws. This benchmark itself however, when looked more closely, tends to be biased towards humans and provides an evidence of ambiguity. The rules defined in the act are not strictly stated. They mention some scope for exceptions. More than half of the population eats non vegetarian food every second day. Slaughtering and slicing of animals for the sake of filling human’s stomach and craving is one every single day without speck of regret on their face. There are several clauses which are not clearly mentioned in the act. The act seems to be more of a warning rather than an action taking advisory and regulatory. There was a tussle between cattle traders and representatives of a city goshala in 2015 in Coimbatore, India. The tussle was related to cattle being harmed and left unprotected. According to PCAA provisions, the police seized the cattle but was not able to provide for the maintenance and infrastructure to them. There was no government help to participate in building a safer environment for maintenance of the seized cattle. As a result, the police had to auction to a private owned goshala. This led to an active discussion by various animal activists and NGOs focusing on the failure of PCAA. Delinquents use the knowledge of the act in their favor by molding them owning to their unclarity and using them in front of the authorities to prove themselves innocent and walk away scot-free. As a result of organized welfare departments and more awareness, the system has made more space to look after the other ‘fragment of the country’. The fragment which was overlooked by the government till now. The fragment which constitutes a significant population of the whole country. The fragment which needs the support of authorities apart from the public to live peacefully. The efforts of several animal activists and the duty of the concerned authorities together resulted in the formation of laws for this ‘fragment of the country’. The concern of animal suffering has successfully found a noticeable place in the legislation and judiciary of Indian administration. India based all these rules and regulations is to show rejection towards anthropocentric school. The idea of anthropocentrism suggests that the race of human beings is the most superior and all other non- human living creatures fall below them morally and mentally. This ideology is unacceptable considering that the animals also have a moral value and are a part of nature. Protecting the interests of nature is in the interest of human beings as well. If compared to the previous situation, the introduction to laws and rules are worth acknowledging. These acts, however are in urgent need of revisiting and polishing. The loopholes must not be such that they slowly fade away the importance of the existence of acts. One thing which must be understood is that all the judiciary and legislation will fail miserably without the support of its citizens. The involvement of people is very crucial. There are people who take account of these rules and follow their duty of not breaking them. While there are others who do not attempt to give any importance to them and do not value them at all. The implementation and execution of the rules is highly dependent on how people look at them. More importantly, the thought and mindedness of people plays a much significant role than any other law existing to turn the tables regarding any issue. A nation is nothing but a collection of persons. The animals suffer partly because they are given a world where human species is the superior one and partly because they are now a toy in the business minded and self-centered hands of this specie. It is the mind and thinking of the humans which needs to be regulated and the actions of these humans collectively will stand over the power of democracy. As correctly quoted ‘It’s all in your head’. The final chapter demands an elaborated discussion over this aspect. Reaching at the epilogue of this chapter, the readers, by now must be well aware of all the rights and enumerated acts which have been introduced by the Indian constitution, parliament, judiciary and welfare boards and they have made the life of animals, a better and safer one. They must also have deeply understood the faults in them and the scope for amendments. Nothing is perfect until it’s looked upon, thought upon and worked upon. Therefore, the hope further escalates of seeing India as a perfect animal affectionate nation.
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