Animal laws in india: Are we insensitive?

The Indian democratic law system, which provides protection to animals, are in fact a result of a thousand years of tradition, practice, cultural ethics and a deep rooted lifestyle. Despite that we still continue to ignore the barbarism that our present society inflicts upon animals, whereas on the other hand.

Two months back, an eleven-year-old female dog was hacked alive by a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in Delhi. Despite a world wide, large scale uproar and protest against that man, not even a case was registered by the police…even after written statements by 41 witnesses! On the other hand, two years back, a man in London was sentenced to 180 hours community service, banned from keeping animals for five years and ordered to pay £1,200 costs at Sutton Magistrates’ Court… all because he neglected his dogs so badly that one had to be put down. Now, that’s what we call justice to our beloved canines!Countries like UK, have understood the rights of our animal friends and have devised ways to shun people from misbehaving with them. Back in India, it is really frustrating that inspite of liberal democracy, animal abusers are left scot-free. The reason for this callousness is not inadequate animal laws but lack of clarity in understanding that – Why such people should be punished at all in the fi rst place?

Animal laws in India have been in place for centuries together. Interestingly, before the Constitution of India was formally constituted, these laws prevailed in the form of religious cults, sects, customs and rituals. Be it Islam or Hinduism, the respect for all life and protection to animals were very strongly highlighted in our daily lives as canons and markers. So, for many centuries, tradition of law rotated around “coexistence”, “tolerance” and “respect” for all life forms.

This philosophy and knowledge later formulated the basic building blocks of the constitution of India which are laid down through the canons of the “Fundamental Rights”, “Duties” and the “Directive Principles of State Policies” in detail. We are only aware of some of the direct laws pertaining to animal rights such as the ‘Prevention To Cruelty Act,’ the ‘Animal Birth Control Rules’ and a few more.

Here are a few laws from our Constitution:

While Article 48-A says: “The State shall endeavor to protect & improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.” Article 51-A deals with the fundamental duties of the citizen. Article 51-A (g) states: “It shall be duty of every citizen of India to protect & improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.” Article 19 deals with the fundamental rights of the citizen. So “Right to Protect the Environment” comes within Article 19. The ten Fundamental Duties— given in Article 51-A of the constitution—can be classifi ed as either duties towards self, duties concerning the environment, duties towards the State and duties towards the nation.

“Directive Principles of State Policy” directs that the government should keep them in mind while framing laws, even though they are non-justifi able in nature. Directive Principles are classified under the following categories: Gandhian, Social, Economic, Political, Administrative, Legal, Environmental, Protection of monuments, Peace and security.

After the Stockholm Declaration in 1972 the Indian Constitution (Fortysecond Amendment) Act, 1976 inserted for the first time, specifi c provisions to protect and improve the environment. The IPC Section 428 and 429 and the Delhi Police Act section 78 provides protection from dislocation of dogs, abduction and acts of cruelty. Ministry of Public Grievances notifi cation and a similar notifi cation by Animal Welfare Board of India dated March 2008, provide immunity to animal feeders. The FBI, like the rest of the world, has recognized that the lives of serial killers suggested that most of them had killed or tortured animals as children. Other research has shown consistent patterns of animal cruelty among perpetrators of more common forms of violence, including child abuse, spouse abuse, and elder abuse. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association considers animal cruelty one of the diagnostic criteria of conduct disorder.

Animal cruelty and its prevention is the first issue India needs to address to even start calling itself a developing nation and a civilized and a safe society to live in. The laws are strong enough for protection of animals in India, yet the mentalities of the people have to change so as to bring those laws into action and implementation.