“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened” These beautiful lines were said by Anatole France, a French poet. We live in a breathtaking web of ecosystems that interact with other species of beings. This article aims at exploring one such thread of this web of nature, animals. Through time immemorial, humans have depended on animals for a wide array of needs, however, there is little credit that goes their way. The most glaring question that comes up is if animals are really even safe.
Laws Related to Dogs in India
India is home to the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots. It’s the proud residence of animals like the Bengal Tiger and the great Indian Rhinoceros. India compliments itself with one of the more advanced approaches to animal protection and welfare. There are various provisions enshrined in the constitution of the country as well as several other statutes like the Indian Penal Code, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and statutes that are specifically aimed at rectifying this social evil of animal cruelty. We will now explore these provisions in detail.
The Constitution of India
The 42nd amendment brought change and added various provisions like in the fundamental duties, given in the Constitution of India, it is the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for all living creatures. Other than this, the Constitution also enlists the directive principles of state policy, under Article 48A, which dictate that the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. These provisions, however not enforceable, lay down the groundwork for the legislative policies in furtherance of animal welfare and animal rights. India being a federal country, divides subjects between the central government and the state government to legislate laws. The concurrent list, which includes subjects on which both governments can make laws, include item 17 and 17B, which talk about the prevention of cruelty to animals and the protection of wild animals and birds respectively.
This act was a major advancement in their field of animal welfare. It was made to punish severely the persons indulging in cruelty against animals and to identify the acts which amount to cruelty against animals. Primarily it sets up an animal welfare board and defines its powers, functions and constitution. This board has to be established by the central government and it shall be considered as a corporate body having unending succession along with a common seal with the power to acquire, hold and dispose of property and to sue and get sued by its name. There are various responsibilities that the board is entrusted with. The duties are with regard to encouragement of financial assistance, rescue homes and animal shelters, imparting education and awareness on humane treatment of animals and advising the central government regarding general matters of animal welfare.
Stray dogs are protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960, and rules enacted under Section 38 of the act, particularly, the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001; Indian Penal Code’s Sections 428 & 429 and Article 51A (g) of the Constitution.
- Street dogs cannot be beaten, killed or driven away or displaced or dislocated, they can only be sterilized in the manner envisaged in The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, vaccinated, and then returned back to their original locations. The stray dogs can be sterilized only when they’ve attained the age of at least 4 months and not before that.
- Killing, maiming, poisoning or rendering useless of any animal is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years or with fine or with both, under Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- As per Section 11 (i) of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 abandoning an animal, leaving it in a situation that it suffers pain due to starvation or thirst, is a punishable offence.
- The Delhi High Court states that there are no laws that prohibit people from feeding stray animals. It is a crime to threaten, abuse or harass neighbours who feed animals. (Section 506)
See Also: India bans the import of dogs for breeding
Your Rights To Pet Ownership – RWA
Pet ownership comes with a set of responsibilities – not only to the pet but to the neighbours too. RWA can place reasonable requests like – allotting pet corners, defecation rules, asking for regular vaccinations etc. As long as you are not causing a nuisance, you have a right to keep a pet.
RWA cannot ask you to disown your pet. If you feel threatened or targeted because of keeping a pet – you can do the following:
RWA can’t make laws on their whims to disallow pet companionship.
- Reach out to local SPCA or any other animal welfare organization. They will usually talk to the RWA and make them understand the laws – it should end there. You can also write a letter to municipal corporation.
- You can file a complaint with the nearest local police station under Section 428, 429 IPC (Indian Penal Code) if the RWA is not cooperative.
- You may contact the Animal Welfare Board of India in case your pet or any other animal is under threat.
- You can reach out to Ms Meneka Gandhi. Mention the registered address of the RWA and fax number if any. A letter from official MP letterhead usually knocks some sense into RWAs.
- The Registrar of Societies (RoS) can take action against or even dissolve an RWA for its unwarranted approach towards a pet-owning family.
- Action can be initiated against RWA members under Section 2 (1)(g) of the Consumers Protection Act. (District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum).
Animals Laws to Protect Pets
The Animal Protection (Dogs) Rules, 2001 provide for rules relating to pet and street dogs.
- Keeping, or confining any animal chained for long hours with a heavy chain or chord amounts to cruelty on the animal and punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to 3 months or both.
- If an owner fails to provide its pet with sufficient food, drink or shelter, he/she shall be liable for punishment according to Section 11 (1) (h) of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is a punishable offence.
- Any person who, without any reasonable cause, abandons an animal in such a situation where the animal is bound to suffer pain due to starvation or thirst- Section 11 (i)
- Any owner of an animal who consciously allows an infected, diseased or disabled animal to go into any street without any permit or leave the animal to die in any street- Section 11 (j)
- Any person intimidating another person and preventing him/her, who is the owner of a pet, from keeping or taking care of his/her pet can be held liable under Section 503 of the IPC.
How to Use Animal Laws?
If you come across a situation that is in violation of animal rights, you can either send a legal notice to the individual/group of animal abusers yourself through a lawyer or report the matter to an NGO which would do that for you. In case no action is being taken by the abuser even after sending the notice, you can file an official complaint.
To ensure that authorities actually take action, please seek help from NGOs – many of them have legal outreach and it helps move the machinery. You may also reach out to journalists over social media – similarly politicians or higher authorities (unfortunately that’ how the cookie crumbles sometimes).
Try raising awareness in your neighbourhoods and societies – strays can also be trained to be guard dogs. Along with colony guards, they can provide an additional security cover.
While the severity of punishment(s) is still not that harsh and needs to be revisited real soon, one can hope that animal laws act as a deterrent to those who try to take the law in hand. We hope that awareness regarding these laws would help people to report and stand up for the animals.
This article is written and submitted by Mannat Sharma during her course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Mannat is a 4th Year student BA LLB student at UILS, Panjab University.