The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. – Mahatma Gandhi
India despite of being one of the richest country in the arena of flora and fauna requires enormous amount of attention with regards to cruelty against animals. First of all, cruelty against animal means any kind of infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering to animals. There are several legislation to prevent such acts against animals. The most important legislation is Prevention of Cruelty against Animals Act, 1960 the several other acts include Wildlife Protection Act, 2006 (amended from the original act of 1972), The Forest Rights Act, 2006, and even to Constitution of India provides for protection of right of animals across the country.
But in recent years we can see a lot of cruelty cases against animals coming on record. For instance, amid the emerge of COVID-19 in India a case surfaced with regards to killing of a pregnant elephant in Kerala, another instance was of 2016 where a medical boy who threw a dog on the terrace just for making funny video, also the number of deaths of cattle’s and stray dogs on roads is innumerable. The list of such cases will go on and on. This article will give certain insight to what are the loopholes in the laws made by the legislature and how we can curb this issue.
It is true that India is stepping in the arena of Job Growths, International relations etc, but there exists a major loophole with regard to cruelty on animals. The Prevention Act was enacted in 1960 and since then no important amendment was made to the Act. The penalties imposed in the Act for cruelty against animals were Rs. 10 to 50 in case of offence mentioned under section 11 (1) (a) and fine not less that Rs. 25 and not exceeding Rs. 100 in case of offence mentioned under section 11 (1) (b-o), so we can see that the penalty imposed was very low although it may acted as a deterrent when act was enacted but in the current world it is very minimal penalty and will definitely not act as deterrent. From the above many questions came in mind like whether animals are the children of some lesser gods or whether the animals does not have right to live.
Now coming to the provisions in Constitution of India, Article 51 (g) under part IV of the Constitution declares that every citizen should improve and protect the natural environment and shall have compassion for all the living creatures. But we all are aware of the facts that fundamental duties are not binding on citizens and breach of those will not arise any legal obligations.
Another enactment was the Wildlife Protection Act, 2006, and its main objective was to preserve and protect the wildlife animals and to prevent illegal trade and smuggling of the wildlife animals, but this act failed to provide the basic objective because of the lack of integrated approach across the country. The most serious hindrance in this case is China being the biggest importer of wildlife products like ivory and tiger parts and India shares a long range of border with it and that too the borders are porous. And the most misused provision of this Act was of Self Defence under section 11 (2) which provides that killing or wounding an animal in course of self defence is not an offence.
In furtherance with the above, there is a conflict between the Wildlife Protection Act and the Forest Rights Act, the latter provides some improvised communities of the country right to own and live in forest and if this happens then confrontation with wildlife creature will arise and killing of same will them proclaim for section 11 (2) of the Wildlife Protection Act. In my opinion also human and wildlife creatures can’t reside together, also Mr. A. Buncombe in his article The Face of Doomed Species said that humans and tigers cannot co-exist together.
From the above we can see that the provisions of the enactment do have loopholes and those loopholes are misused by the poachers. Now we will turn towards some Judicial Pronouncements to see how judiciary has reacted on this matter. In the famous case of Animal Welfare Boards of India v. Nagaraja, the Supreme Court banned the practice of Jallikattu and held that Article 51 (g) of the Constitution is the Magna Carta of the animal’s rights in India. Further the Court said that the phrase every living being in Article 21 of the Constitution also includes the animals.
In a recent 86 pages verdict of High Court of Delhi it has been held that the people can feed the stray dogs but that too be done with caution and it should be ensure that the act is not harming the rights of other citizens.
Legislature has also taken a positive view to curb the issue of cruelty against animals and in furtherance a bill was proposed by Sumitra Mahajan in 2016 to amend the Protection of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and it was proposed to impose adequate amount of penalties and the strict enforcement should be done.
The Uttar Pradesh Government also initiated Cow Slaughter Prevention Ordinance, 2020 to protect cows. An adequate amount of punishment with fine is proposed and approve. This kind of initiation is required at the Central Level. And the Conservation initiative by the Government and also by we citizens should be done to protect the wildlife.
In order to conclude I would like to say that to curb the cruelty to animals the active participation of Judiciary, Government and the Citizens is required. The laws should be enforced strictly and with the help of NGOs’ and social media we need to spread awareness among the citizens and to teach our children that animals rights are not at mercy of we humans and we must co-exist together.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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