• The Law Gazette

Assessing the Rights provided to Animals

The infliction of harm on animals is not a hot topic; animals have been suffering from abuse, mistreatment, and beating for long. They have been neglected by the society for a quite long period of crime. The heinous crime of killing animals has no end and this horrific act is taking new forms with each passing day. While the banning of big cats from performing at circus has been a boon, the continuation of use of elephants and horses has been considered as bane. For these entertainment purposes, the cost is bear by the innocent animals that could not even put their suffering into words. Poaching of animals for their skin, fur and teeth has been crossed all the levels of inhumanity. Not only this, the animals are also sacrificed which is commonly referred to as bali in many temples in Assam, Odisha, West Bengal, etc, under the name of essential practice. Animal cruelty takes many forms and many victims, but is end result is always the same: animal suffering. The exploitation of animals is unstoppable.


For the protection of animals from illegal trade, hunting and killing of animals, the Parliament of India in 1972 came up with the Wildlife Protection Act,1972 [i] (hereinafter referred to as Act), to protect not only the animal species but also the plant species. The act aims at establishment of protected areas for the wildlife, prohibition of hunting, proper and efficient management of the zoo, and to regulate the trade of the parts of wildlife so as to preserve and protect them. The Act also forbids damaging the eggs of wild cats and reptiles. People are fascinated to collect and preserve skin of animals in the form of rugs, preservation of teeth, horns of animals. This is known as taxidermy which is also prohibited under this Act. This Act is applicable in the whole part of India, except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act penalizes those who has been caught in the process of trade of animals and imposes a penalty in the form of fine of Rs. 25000.[ii]

Often it is said that human have a right to life as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India (hereinafter referred to as the Constitution), but whether animals are being covered under this article of the Constitution? People are exploiting the animals for the sake of their so-called entertainment ignoring the fact that they are also beings who are protected by the Constitution. In the Jallikattu case (Animal Welfare Board of India v A. Nagaraja [iii]) the apex court held that animals are covered under Article 21 of the Constitution. The species are indirectly covered under this article.

Article 21 reads as ‘no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by the law’. The word life has a wider connotation and all the forms of life come under this, therefore, animals too have right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The Tripura High Court also said that the right to life is a fundamental right which is extended to animals also[iv] and therefore, the deprivation of life to animals would attract sanctions. Prevention of Cruelty on animals Act, 1960 establishes a Welfare Board for animals to protect them from unnecessary pain and suffering. Section 11 of the act describes what defines as cruelty towards animals.[v]


The instances of animal cruelty are always floating in the society. In the recent incident of animal cruelty, a pregnant wild buffalo has been shot dead by a group of poachers in Kerala, wherein they not only killed the animal but also butchered the foetus.[vi] The horrific crime is not the first one which has been in talk, few months ago a pregnant elephant has been killed in the same state when the villagers gave a pineapple having crackers fitted in it.[vii] When the elephant tried to chew it, it got busted and later she died. The tragic death of elephant received nationwide coverage. In another recent incident, a cow has been given cracker stuffed food due to which her jaw was blown off in Himachal Pradesh. Everyday such incidents of animal cruelty are happening and the society is appalled after hearing such incidents. The psychology of such offenders is difficult to comprehend; they deserve punishment for such brutal acts which a normal being cannot even think of.[viii]


It is the duty of the state to ensure that Animals are not brought into the State and are not moved out of the state. The slaughtering of animals in the name of rituals and tradition have now become a daily thing. Moreover, the people are not just satisfied by slaughtering them they are also killing them with various means like the incident which took place a month ago in Kerala where a pregnant Elephant was given crackers to eat, and later after eating she died standing helplessly in a small water pond and the killing of a cow in Himachal Pradesh. The Supreme Court in the case of Animal Welfare Board of India vs Nagaraja & Ors.[ix], have acknowledged the Right the life of animals as well.

Around the world, abuses against animals is treated differently in different countries. Austria, UK Hong Kong are the top three countries having the strictest Animal Welfare Laws. Austria is regarded as one of the safest and best countries for animals in the entire world. Now it’s high time for such a big country and a home to a million of species to take a stricter step forward for animals, after those inhumane incidents which have taken place recently. India being a home to various religions that advocate non-violence and compassion towards all animals and there are many existing laws to protect them. But it’s our duty also to follow these specified laws made for the well-being of Animals and if we do not take a strict action against those culprits then cruelty against animals will never stop. As the time flies, it seems like humanity is merely a word in the Dictionary and if humans continue to act with such cruelty, humanity will soon disappear from this world.


The government needs to properly analyse the recent cases of cruelties against animals and make stronger laws and policies which will help in protecting them. Thought the judiciary has played a comparatively active role in contributing to the development of animal rights but there is a considerable gap when it comes to the legislative side of it. These issues of animal are not taken on a serious note but now its high time to stop this kind of cruelties in the name of tradition and to satisfy themselves.

Almost everyone believes in animal rights, at least in some minimal sense, the real question is what that phrase actually means. By exploring that question, it is possible to give a clear sense of the lay of the land. To show the range of possible positions, and to explore what issues, of theory or fact, separate reasonable people. On reflection the spotlight should be placed squarely on the issue of suffering and well-being. This position requires rejection of some of the most radical claims by animal rights advocates, especially those that stress the “autonomy” of animals or that object to any human control and use of animals. But this position has radical implications of its own. It strongly suggests, for example, that there should be extensive regulation of the use of animals in entertainment in scientific experiments and in agriculture. It also suggests that there is a strong argument, in principle, for bans on many current uses if animals.[x]

Man created our human rights for people and it is only man that uses this concept. The Human race needs to have an obligation to set limits for animal rights. The development of rights for our animals should be an effective and a possible concept that can legally be looked at. We must set a guideline for legal limits to humans when it comes to animals and their rights. Animals are vulnerable, defenceless and are controlled by us people to enforce animals’ rights. For those who ignore the welfare of animals should need to be held responsible for breaking the laws of animal rights.

It is mandatory to take firm steps to encounter this slaughtering of camels all over India and prevent the cruelty against the innocent Animals by ensuring that the punishment prescribed in the Act is very severe in nature. It’s the duty of the government to protect the camel and ensure that they are not slaughtered. The Slaughter of any animal cannot be justified and it should be stopped completely. Even after the Laws are made under the Provision of Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals Act, 1960, the slaughter-houses are functionals and most of them don’t have the license.[xi] As the time flies, it seems like humanity is merely a word in the Dictionary and if humans continue to act with such cruelty, humanity will soon disappear from this world.


[i] Wildlife Protection (India) Act, 1972, No. 53, § 9. [ii] Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 was passes this on this Day: About the Act and How it Changed, India Today (August 21, 2018, 01:33 PM), https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/gk-current-affairs/story/wildlife-protection-act-1972-enacted-on-this-day-know-about-the-act-and-its-changes-1319842-2018-08-21 [iii] Animal Welfare Board of India vs Nagaraja & Ors. (2014) 7 SCC 547. [iv] Ashok Kini, Animals Have Fundamental Right to Life: Tripura HC, Live Law (Sept. 27, 2019, 11:30 PM), https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/tripura-hc-bans-animal-bird-sacrifice-in-temples-148529?infinitescroll=1 [v] Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, No.59, § 11.

[vi] Ritu Singh, Horrific Animal Cruelty: Pregnant Wife Buffalo Killed for its Meat in Kerala, India.com (August 20, 2020, 3:12 PM), https://www.india.com/viral/pregnant-wild-buffalo-killed-for-its-meat-in-keralas-malappuram-foetus-butchered-4117168/

[vii] Killing of Pregnant Elephant in Kerala Triggers Nationwide Outrage, Times of India (June 4, 2020, 01:33 PM), https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kozhikode/killing-of-pregnant-elephant-in-kerala-triggers-nationwide-outrage/articleshow/76183627.cms

[viii] Anuja Iyer, Stop Cruelty to Animals, The Hindu (June 11, 2016, 07:54 AM), https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/entertainment/Stop-cruelty-to-animals/article14483289.ece#![ix] Supra note ii.

[x] Mogbo Tochukwu, Animal Cruelty: A Review, 3 Journal of Natural Sciences Research 94, 96 (2013), https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258342070_Animal_Cruelty_A_Review

[xi] Mehal Jain, Transport and Slaughter of Camels illegal: Telangana HC, Live Law (July 18, 2020, 7:18 PM), https://www.livelaw.in/news-updates/transport-and-slaughter-of-camels-illegal-telangana-hc-160105?infinitescroll=1


This blog has been authored by Ishita Sapre, who is a 3rd Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) student at Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad & Abhinav Aakash who is a 2nd Year B.A., LL.B. (Hons.) student at Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Visakhapatnam.