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Author: Jina Hazra, III-year LL B from The University of Burdwan Department of Law.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

-Mahatma Gandhi


Animal means any living creature other than a human being. Animals are different from humans in respect of physical strength, mental capacity and emotional pain or pleasure but rights are as important as a life whether human or animal. Animal is an important part of the ecosystem and it contributes to maintain the balance in nature. In India almost 5lakh animals became the victims of crimes between 2010 to 2020. Like any other person animals are need to be protected and for their protection Indian legislature made some finest provisions which confers various rights to them. Indian Constitution, Indian Penal Code 1860, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, Wild life Protection Act 1972 and other state laws are there to protect animals from evil eyes and to punish the persons having evil eyes.

Rights of animals

Animal rights under Indian Constitution Part IV of the Indian constitution describes directive principles of state policy. Article 48 and 48A are two directive principles in relation to animal protection. Unlike fundamental rights DPSP aren’t enforceable in any court. These are some principles which state and union government must keep in mind before enacting laws.

Article 48 says that state must put effort in organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific way and also preserve, improve and safeguard animals. Prohibition of slaughtering is exclusively mention in this article. Here animal means cows, calves, other milch and draught cattle.

Article 48A was inserted by the constitution 42nd amendment Act 1976. Article 48A confers a duty on state to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests as well as wildlife of the country.

In Indian constitution beside the government citizens are also liable to protect or safeguard animals. Fundamental duties have been prescribed under 51A part IV A of The Indian Constitution. Article 51-A clause (g) mention the duty of Indian citizens to protect environment including wildlife of the nation.

By interpreting above three articles, we can say that it ensures the right to protection of life of animals.

Animal rights under IPC

To protect the rights of animals and to establish justice section 428 and section 429 are enacted under the Indian Penal Code 1860. Section 428 provides punishment to the person whoever commits crime by killing, poising, maiming or rendering any animals which valued minimum ten rupees. For committing such offences, one shall be punished with 2 years simple or rigorous imprisonment with or without fine or he can be punished with fine only.

Section 429 deals with the punishment for committing an offence by killing, poising, maiming or rendering useless any animal of valued Rs 50 or more and exclusively mention elephant, cow, camel, horse, buffalo, bull, mule and ox of any value. As punishment 5years simple or rigorous imprisonment with or without fine or only fine has been imposed under this section.

These two sections of IPC provide right to justice to the animals and gives the animals right not be harmed, poisoned and killed by any person.

Animal rights under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960

The objective of this Act is to prevent unnecessary pain or suffering and stop cruelty to animals. This act has mentioned some rights which an animal can enjoy in its lifetime. According to section 11(1) of this Act over rides, over loads, kicks, beats, over drive, torture or any kind of unnecessary pain is prohibited. An employed animal which is unfit because of its age, disease, infirmity, wound, sore etc. has the right to retire or take rest until its fitness. Nobody can put any drug or substance with a mala fide intention which would be injurious for the health of the animal. Animal has the right of free movement in some extends. Human don’t have the right to convey animals through vehicle or any other manner which is painful for the animal and to confine it anywhere without having reasonable opportunity to movement. Animals have the right to enjoy proper care and caution like sufficient food, water, medical treatment etc. It is illegal to kill any animal including stray dogs by injecting crystalline powder in the heart or by using any form of superfluous cruel manner. Organizing competition between two animals or inciting any animal to fight or baiting any animal is a cognizable offence.

Section 11 of PCA Act 1960 contains fifteen punishable offences. Among them the offence under section 11(1)(a) is punishable with minimum fine Rs 10 and maximum fine Rs 50. For reminder offences [ sec 11(1)(b) – sec 11(1)(o)] under section 11(1) fine shall not be less then Rs25 and shall not exceed Rs 100 or imprisonment up to 3months or both.

Animal rights under Wild Life Protection Act 1972

This Act was enacted to protect wild animals, birds and plants. ‘Wild Animal’ means any animal mention in schedule I to IV under this Act. As per sec 9 hunting of any wild animal is completely prohibited unless it maintains sec 11 and 12. Under sec 11 if a wild animal is not dangerous for human life or it has no unrecoverable disease then nobody has the right to hunt that animal. No person has the right to kill any wild animal except in private defense and in case of inability to capture, translocate or rehabilitee a dangerous animal. Sec 12 grants some special purposes to hunt wild animals like education, scientific research, scientific management etc. Under section 38(j) animals have the right to stay in a zoo without any disturbance. No one has the right to tease, molest, injure or feed any animal in zoo. As per section 43 animals have the right not to be sold by a noncertified owner.

For the seek of justice whoever commits crime under this Act (except chapter VA and section 38j) shall be punishable with maximum 3years imprisonment or maximum 25000 rupees fine or both. Provided that when the offence is related to any animal mentioned under schedule I or part II of schedule II then the punishment would be 3 to 7 years of imprisonment and with minimum fine of Rs 10,000. The above proviso is also applicable in case of chapter VA. For the violation of section 38j up to 6months imprisonment or maximum 2000 rupees fine or both can be imposed.

Animal rights under Drugs and Cosmetic Rules 1945

In 2014 after the Fifth Amendment of the Drugs and Cosmetic Rules it is illegal to test any cosmetic on animals under rule 135B and 148C.

Case laws

State of Bihar v. Murad Ali Baig, AIR 1989 SC 1 in this case SC held that hunting of elephant is prohibited under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 as elephant comes under the list of schedule I. The court also share a view that the ingredients of offense under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and IPC is contrary to each other.

Gauri Maulekhi vs. Union of India, writ petition (PIL) No. 77 of 2010 in this case before Gadhimai Festival SC passed an order to stop illegal transportation of cattle from India to Nepal. Sahastra Seema Bal in collaboration with the petitioner made a set of rules and regulations to deal with the issue of animal markets. The apex court declared that the recommendations need to be strictly followed and adhere to.


Indian laws acknowledge various rights of animals. Despite all these rights animals faces cruelty in India. Greediness and immoral behavior of human leads to the violation of animal rights. People hit stone or throw hot water on the street dogs without any valid reason. Vegetable vendors throw acid on the animals to move them from their stall which is very much immoral and unreasonable practice. India has laws to protect animal rights but the problem is on implementation and awareness. Most of us don’t know about the rights of animals and the duty of ours. To protect the animals administration should be more strong, awareness programs should be organized and should make more stringent laws.

End Notes


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