Cruelty against Animals in India
By Sk Riyaj Ahmed
Every living thing on earth has a right to live, but sometimes we become cruel towards animals. Animals have been traditionally considered sacred in Indian culture.1 The symbolic significance of animals in ancient India is a vehicle of god and deities.2 Ashok the Great was Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty forbidding slaughter of animals in 225 BC.3 Mahatma Gandhi once rightly said, “The greatness of a nation is judged by the way it treats its animals”.
But in today’s competitive world, no heed is paid to basic morals and ethos and in a rat-race to earn more and easy money, animals become the targets. Recently a nationwide outrage was triggered after a pregnant elephant in Kerala died as a consequence of consuming a fruit-land that was stuffed with explosive. It has been referred to as a ‘premeditated murder’ by some, but for many, it is just a general practice to protect their fields against wild animals, especially boars.
But this is not the first time animals have been treated with cruelty in India; just a day before the Kerala incident, the jaw of Nandini – a pregnant cow – was severely injured after being fed dough stuffed with firecrackers in Jhandutta area of Bilaspur district, Himachal Pradesh.4 In April this year, another female elephant had died in a similar fashion at Pathanapuram forest range area under Punalur division in Kollam district, Kerala.5
Every day, animals are mistreated, slaughtered and killed with such instances of inhumanity. Intending to curb the menace of cruelty against animals, various laws have been enacted by the Central Government, but the main laws concerning prevention of animal cruelty are the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 and wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Also to kill or maim any animal including stray animals is a cognizable offence under Section 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code.
Article 51- A (g) of the Constitution of India clearly outlines the fundamental duty of every citizen to have compassion for all living creatures, but since our duties are not legally enforceable, the citizens do not feel their responsibility towards anything but themselves.
The Supreme Court of India pronounced a landmark judgment in ‘Animal Welfare Board of India vs. A. Nagaraja & Ors’ 6 banned the use of bulls and bullocks in “entertainment activities” such as Jallikattu, which is traditionally held during the Pongal period because the event is not for the well-being of the animal and causes the unnecessary pain and suffering. This practice also violated many of the provisions of the PCA Act.
India has always been a country, a land that has worshiped animals for centuries, where animals have been considered to be incarnations of God. But lately, India is coming across as a nation whose citizens are self-absorbed, who are complacent and no longer can differentiate between legal and illegal actions, let alone the concept of morality. This judgement holds that animals too possess a right to live with dignity, and, therefore, enjoy a right to life under Article 21 of the constitution also includes right to live in a society free of animal cruelty.
Indian Judiciary has offered a ray of hope in the area of animal protection, the courts have one hand, toppled the government’s activities to cut the area of wild life sanctuary or use such are against the interest of the wild life, and on the other hand protected animals from human cruelties. In order to implement the PCA and its Rules, there is also a need to make sure that the State Animal Welfare Board runs properly, because in many states there is no such board and where there is one, it hasn’t met for years, there is also a need to make sure that the State Animal Welfare Board runs properly, because in many states there is no such board and where there is one, it hasn’t met for years. Government may create special Forums/ Animal Welfare Courts to address such issue. In my opinion to prevent such alarming rise of such instance of barbaric animal cruelty and inhuman exploitation, there needs to be a change in the mindsets of people, who rather than mistreating animals, start respecting them..
The author is 5years 8th semester student of B.A.LL.B. at Sureswar Dutta Law College.
1-Dr. Gajanan T Hivale, ‘ANIMALS IN INDIAN ENGLISH POETRY,’ P- 19,Pub- Lulu Publication, Hillsborough, USA,2019.
3-Laura Riley and William Riley ‘Nature’s Strongholds: The World’s Great Wildlife Reserves,’ P-203, Pub- Princeton University Press, New Jersey UK, 2005
4-Gaurav Bisht,’ Now, pregnant cow’s jaw blown off by explosive-laden wheat-flour ball in Himachal’s Jhandutta’, HindustanTimes, dt- 6th June 2020.
5-Editorial, ‘Kerala: Residents blame negligence for eight-year-old jumbo’s death,’ The Times Of India, dt- 5th June 2020.
6-(2014) 7 SCC 547