Animals have been the subjects of human torture for a long time. Every once in a while, a gruesome video comes up in the news, in which a voiceless animal is being killed, mutilated, or tortured. Street animals in India live a deplorable life as they starve, fall ill, or get run over by speeding vehicles quite often. This is when animal rights become the topic of discussion.
Here are six animal laws in India that every citizen must be aware of:
1. It is the Fundamental Duty of every citizen to protect the environment, including animals.
The Constitution of India states that it is the fundamental duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.
The Constitution also states as a Directive Principle that the State should take steps for preserving and improving animal breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows, calves, and other milch and draught cattle.
2. Torturing an animal or subjecting it to unnecessary suffering is a punishable offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
The Act also states that administering injurious drugs to an animal, habitually confining it for an unreasonable time, mutilating it, and starving it, are all punishable by law.
An offender can be fined up to Rs. 50 in case of a first offence, and the amount may exceed up to Rs. 100 in case a second offence occurs within three years from the previous case.
3. Killing, maiming, or poisoning an animal, or engaging in bestiality is a punishable offence under the Indian Penal Code.
The Indian Penal Code, 1860, under Sections 428 and 429 states that any person who kills, poisons, or maims an animal shall be punished with imprisonment up to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Also, Section 377, which was recently read-down by the Supreme Court, still remains in force when it comes to bestiality. It states that whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any animal shall be punished with imprisonment for life or up to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
4. Hunting wild animals and destroying the eggs of wild birds or reptiles is punishable.
The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972 prohibits capturing, killing, poisoning, snaring, or trapping wild animals. Injuring, destroying, or taking away any part of the body of animals, and damaging or disturbing the eggs of wild birds or reptiles is also considered as hunting.
The Act imposes imprisonment up to 3 years or with fine up to Rs. 25, 000, or both, for a first offence. In case of a subsequent offence, the imprisonment can extend up to 6 years and the minimum fine payable is Rs. 10,000.
5. Pregnant, nursing or very young animals cannot be slaughtered.
The Slaughterhouse Rules, 2001 prohibit the slaughter of any animal which is pregnant, or has an offspring less than three months old, or is under the age of three months. Animals cannot be slaughtered except in recognized or licensed slaughterhouses.
The Rules also state that an animal cannot be slaughtered in sight of other animals. Any person contravening the Rules can be punished with a fine up to Rs. 100, or with imprisonment up to 3 months.
6. Transport of poultry in unclean containers is prohibited.
Poultry being transferred in unhygienic and inhumane conditions is a frequent scenario in many cities. The Transport of Animals Rules state that the containers carrying poultry must be properly cleaned and sterilised before placing the poultry in them.
The transporters must also take care that the poultry is not exposed to direct sunlight, rain, and a direct blast of air during their transport. Also, transporting the poultry when the temperature is above 25 degrees or below 15 degrees is banned.
Contravention of these Rules is an offence punishable with fine, or imprisonment, or both.
Many of the punishments imposed against violation of animal rights in India are meagre, and may not be deterrent enough for potential offenders. While these animal laws need stricter implementation and stronger penalties, it is important for every citizen to know the current laws and give a voice to the animals wherever possible.