India, the world’s seventh largest country, is one in every of the foremost bio-diverse regions within the world, with four of the world’s 36 variety hotspots.  It’s home to animals starting from Bengal Tigers to the Great Indian Rhinoceros and animal protection and welfare within the country has taken a outstanding place in recent years. Protection of animals is enshrined as a basic duty within the Indian Constitution and there are many animal welfares laws in India such as Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and Wildlife Protection Act 1972 at the central level and Animal Protection and Prohibition of Cow Slaughter Act at the state levels.

Animals of every kinds are victims of cruelty in massive numbers in each corner of the globe world.  World Animal Protection, a worldwide organization, has created the Animal Protection Index (API), wherever a complete of 50 countries receive grades in keeping with their legislation and animal welfare policies. It is the primary index of its kind that reflects the a lot of totally  different countries from A (highest score) to G (lowest score). India’s performance within the Animal Protection Index 2020 was average, however the score means presently India’s animal welfare laws are much weaker than other countries and therefore the unskillfulness of the present legal provisions is the reason for the increasing incidence of animal abuse within the country.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960:

The basic cruelty law of India is contained within the Hindrance of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.  The target of the Act is to stop supernumerary pain or suffering on animals and to amend laws concerning to the prevention of cruelty to animals.  The Act defines “animal” as any living being aside from human. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is one among the foremost comprehensive laws on the subject of animal welfare in India.  It is an act of Parliament passed on 26 December 1960 with a view to prevent cruelty to animals.

The main objective of the Act is:

A. The act inflicts unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.

B. The Act contains provisions for the establishment of the Animal Welfare Board of India, its powers, functions, constitution and term of office of the members of the Board.

C. The Act lays down guidelines regarding experiments on animals for scientific purposes and empowers a committee to make rules with respect to such experiments.

D. The Act prohibits the exhibition and training of performing animals.  Both the words ‘display’ and ‘train’ have been defined separately under section 21 of the Act.

Cruelty in All Its Forms

Animal cruelty laws range from general prohibitions on causing unnecessary suffering to a broad list of specific criminal behaviours. Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 (PCA Act, 1960) makes it an offense to beat or torture animals.[1]  All cruelty to pets by their owners is an offense under this section.  Even organizing animal fighting in the form of sport/recreation is an offense punishable with fine ranging from Rs 50 to Rs 100, or imprisonment for three months, or both.  The PCA Act deals with cruelty to animals and Sections 428 and 429 of IPC 1860 criminalize the killing or maiming of any animal for commercial purposes.[2]

Restriction on Entertainment:

Using animals for entertainment and commercial purposes also comes under cruelty and is prohibited in the interest of animals.  Section 26 of the PCA Act 1960 punishes the act of display or training of any animal, and shall be fined up to Rs.500. But section 27 exempts this restriction.  Training or display of animals for genuine purposes such as military training, educational purposes shall be exempted from the hands of section 26.

How to file a complaint related to Animal Cruelty in India?

It is the duty of every citizen to protect animal rights. Any person who has witnessed cruelty against an animal can report the matter to the local police station or to the SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and seek their help in enforcing the law to punish the offender.  Is.  If the police is unresponsive, a complainant can reach out to the nearest NGO like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and they will assist in taking a stand against animal cruelty.

Animal cruelty complaints can be reported directly to:

  • Local police station
  • SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
  • Senior Government Officer in the State or District Animal Welfare Board.
  • Area MLA.

Criminal Penalties for Cruelty and Neglect:

Section 11(2) of the PCA Act, 1960 makes it mandatory for animal owners to exercise proper care and supervision to prevent cruelty against animals owned by them.  If they fail to comply with these obligations, they will be held guilty.

Any kind of cruelty to animals is an offense under section 11 of the Act.  The first offense is punishable with a maximum fine of fifty rupees per animal.  The subsequent offense shall be punishable with a fine of one hundred rupees and with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with both.  The court may order the confiscation of the animal subject to cruelty, and thereafter, the animal is deemed to be government property.  The court can also restrain the guilty person from taking custody of any animal.  This restriction may be permanent or for a fixed period and may be decided by the court.

Animals Rights:

Important cases where the Judiciary recognized equal rights for animals that are notable:

Nair, N. R. and Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors.:  In this case, the Supreme Court held that bears, monkeys, tigers, leopards and lions should not be exhibited or trained as performing animals, though this violates the right to carry on any trade or business guaranteed under Article 19(g).[3]

Animal Welfare Board of India Vs. A. Nagaraja & Ors.: In this case in 2014, the Supreme Court delivered a landmark judgement ruling that banned Jallikattu, a sport in Tamil Nadu. The Court extended the right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution to all living beings, including animals.[4]

How to make animal laws more animal friendly?

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has not been amended since 1960.  Criminals can easily escape by killing, maiming, thrashing a stray animal for a fine of only fifty rupees.  In almost all progressive countries, there are laws in place to protect animals from unnecessary pain and suffering, or in other words, to prevent humans from treating animals cruelly.

Different countries have taken different approaches to dealing with animal abuse, making some of them the best countries for animals to live in.  Austria is considered to be one of the best countries for animals, having the strongest anti-cruelty laws.  The Austrian Animal Welfare Act, 2004 strictly prohibits pet owners from biting their pets’ ears or tails, forcing farmers to open their chickens, and placing puppies and cats in pet shop windows.  Refuses to show the child.

With the enforcement of stricter laws, some of these countries have outperformed India in the Animal Protection Index, 2020.  However, India could not perform well due to some shameful incidents of animal cruelty that happened in some states in the past few years.  Therefore, the time has come for the central government to amend the existing animal-protection laws as the old provisions have become ineffective at present.


Currently, India needs strong animal-protection laws to prevent cruelty as the maximum fine of only fifty or one hundred rupees was put into law more than half a century ago and it desperately needs to be rectified with the present times. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is archaic and fails to protect animals as the current punishments are too weak to prevent people from mistreating animals.  Animals used in scientific research are exempted from the consideration of cruelty. The time has come to make the laws against criminals more stringent and stringent.  After all, animals should be treated like humans and given some fundamental rights to live in peace. The government should strengthen India’s animal-protection laws and ensure that people abusing animals receive long-term prison terms, significant fines and psychological counselling, and that exposure to animals is banned.

[1] The Prevention of Cruelty Act, 1960, sec.11 

[2] Indian Penal Code, 1860.

[3] (2001) 6 SCC 84

[4] (2014) 7 SCC 547

Published by meghachaturvedi

Associate Partner, H.K. Law Offices

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