We live in a beautiful world in which animals and other living beings are as real as human beings. Every person has a different perception of looking at the world but it is a known fact that animals occupy as much space and are as significant and needed on the planet as human beings or any other living being. There is a reason they exist and therefore, there is a reason they must be protected. Human beings are the most powerful creation of the universe. They can either build it or destroy it and therefore, it is the responsibility of the humans to build the universe and protect other living creations that exist in it. This article is a reminder that animals deserve our protection with animal protection laws but more than that, they deserve our love and care. Hence other than following animal protection laws we must take active measures for the same.
The Constitution of Indian under Article 51A (g) makes it a fundamental duty of every citizen of the country to have compassion for all living creatures. It states that – “It shall be 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 living creatures.” Killing or maiming of an animal, abandoning any animal, animal sacrifice, causing them pain or discomfort are all punishable crimes under different laws and a person can be sent to prison with or without fine for committing them.
Enacted in the year 1960, the main objective of this act is to prevent animals from being victims of unnecessary pain and suffering. It also aims to amend the laws connected to the prevention of cruelty to animals. Section 2(a) defines an animal as, any living creature other than a human being. An ‘Animal Welfare Board of India’ has been established under this act for the general purpose of animal welfare. The act is divided into 5 parts. Part 1 explains the scope and definitions, Part 2 regulations in connection with protection of animals, Part 3 sets out the requirement for rodeo and rodeo schools, Part 4 provides for regulations which underpin Part 3 of the principal Act in relation to use of animals in research and Part 5 fees, order and infringement procedures.
Section 11of this act constitutes a description of acts that will come under cruelty. It mentions that if a person beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, overloads, tortures or otherwise inflicts unnecessary pain and suffering on any animal, shall be imprisoned with a term which may extend to 3 months with or without fine. Acts of cruelty also include, employing an animal which is unfit for employment or work due to any reason, willfully and unreasonably administering or attempting to administer any injurious drug or substance to any animal, conveys or carries any animal in such a manner as to cause it unnecessary pain or suffering, keeping an animal chained with unreasonably short or heavy chain for unreasonable time, etc. Moreover, Section 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code make it illegal to maim or cause injury to animals.
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
Wildlife laws in the country can be traced back to the period when King Ashoka ruled Magadha in the 3rd century B.C. Since then, several wildlife laws like Wild Birds Protection Act, 1887 and Wild Birds and Animals Protection Act, 1912 have been brought into the picture. Even then, the country lacked a detailed and comprehensive wildlife protection act, the thirst for which was quenched by the introduction of the Wildlife Protection Act in the year 1972.
Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is an act which promotes and enunciates provisions for the protection of wild birds, plants and animal species in the country. The act consists of 60 sections and VI schedules divided into 8 chapters. It empowers the Central and State governments to declare any area as it deems fit, a wildlife sanctuary, national park or closed area. The VI schedules hold a great deal of importance as they cover the entire gamut of wildlife. Schedule I and II are the most fundamental and important and cover the animals which are under the category of endangered species. These include certain mammals, amphibians, and reptiles, fishes, birds, etc. Schedule III and IV cover roughly the same provisions but for the animals which are not endangered or are on the verge of becoming extinct. Schedule V consists of animals that can be hunted like ducks and deer and Schedule VI, cultivation and plant life.
The term ‘wildlife’ includes any animal, bees, butterflies, crustacean, fish and moths; and aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat. The Wildlife Protection Act appoints certain authorities for the proper and timely enforcement of the provisions of the act. It empowers the state government to appoint a Chief Wildlife Warden and Wildlife Wardens. Hunting of animals from Schedule I to IV is strictly prohibited under article 9. Section 2 (16) defines hunting as – capturing, killing, poisoning, snaring and trapping of any wild animal and every attempt to do so, damaging the eggs of such birds or reptiles or disturbing the eggs or nests of such birds of reptiles, etc. Exceptions for the prohibition on hunting are mentioned in sections 11 and 12 of the act. Animals under schedule I can be hunted if the chief wildlife warden is satisfied that the animal has become dangerous or is so diseased or disabled as beyond any recovery. The killing of an animal in good faith for self-defense of oneself or others is also an exception of hunting. There are several other provisions like these in the wildlife protection act and the penalties for not complying with which are mentioned in section 51 of the act.
We have a responsibility to unite and work together for the welfare of animals and to end their suffering and pain by tackling cruelty and other harmful practices they are victims of. Millions of people today depend on animals for different purposes. We must understand the importance of the symbiotic relationship that humans and animals share and live together in harmony. We should abide by the animal protection laws.
The government is working hard in this direction and has even come up with special rules and animal protection laws such as Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001 under Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty on Animals. Though there are several acts, rules, criminal legislation, and fundamental duties in the Constitution, still crimes against animals are on the rise. There is a need for individuals to recognize the importance of animals to maintain the biodiversity of the planet and help conserve them.
 INDIA CONST., art. 51 (g).
 The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Section 2 (a), Acts of Parliament (India).
 The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Section 11, Acts of Parliament (India).
 Indian Penal Code, Section 428, Acts of Parliament (India).
 Indian Penal Code, Section 429, Acts of Parliament (India).
 Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, art. 9, Acts of Parliament (India).
 Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, section 2 (16), Acts of Parliament (India).
 Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, section 51, Acts of Parliament (India).
 The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, Section 38, Acts of Parliament (India).