Animal Cruelty in India

March 20, 2023Aishwarya VenkateshwaranEdited by Lu Shegay

“India must set a great example to all countries in the world. We must set the example not because I think we are superior, but because we have spoken about ahimsa far more than any other country. The very word ahimsa comes from India; it belongs to us; we have that tradition. We have had examples, great examples in the history of ahimsa, and kings like Asoka have practiced these things. So, the more we talk about it, the greater is the responsibility to put it into practice and that is why I believe that such a Bill as this is absolutely necessary.”

Rukmini Arundale, 1954 Rajya Sabha while introducing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Bill 1953


Cruelty to animals is not a new phenomenon. Even though there are so many laws all around the world, including India, India is known for its widespread practice of animal worship. In India, it is said that animals like cows, tigers, lions, mice, monkeys and even dogs have cultural connotations that unite many religions. Despite this, there have been more instances of animal mistreatment and more severe cases of abuse. According to one Supreme Court decision, animal mistreatment that results from "legitimate" motives is not cruelty.

Most instances of animal cruelty go unreported, in contrast to crimes against people that are at least minimally brought to the attention of authorities. Most allegations of animal mistreatment involve dogs, cats, horses, and cattle. According to research created by All Creatures Great and Small (ACGS) and the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations (FIAPO), 4,93,910 animals were abused by people between 2010 and 2020.

Municipal regulations were implemented throughout British India between the 1870s and 1880s, and for the first time, as a matter of policy, they encouraged the capture and execution of any street dogs that could be discovered. In case the municipal personnel unintentionally caught an owned dog, the captured dog would be sent to pound facilities and held there for 24 to 48 hours. After 48 hours if unclaimed, the dogs would be put to death. The first "fatal" distinction between owned and unowned canines was made in this way.

"Green and Red Beak Bird on Grey Branch" by Sivakumar B from Pexels

Legal Regulations

Article 51A (g) of the Constitution of India states that it is the fundamental duty of every Indian citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.  But in recent years, a lot of instances of animal abuse have been made public thanks to social media. Brutal crimes against animals, including the rape of a cow, the burning alive of pups, the beating to death of a dog, the eating of explosive-laced pineapples by a pregnant elephant, and the execution of monkeys, have been reported across the nation and have gone viral on social media.

India passed the "Prevention of Cruelty to Animals" statute in 1960, however, its application has been marked by weak punishments and a dearth of information. The modest sanctions are not serving as a deterrent, the government recently said. However, there has not been a genuine attempt to change the law or even make the information accessible.

The Concurrent List includes the prevention of animal cruelty, so both the Union and State Governments have the authority to pass laws in this area. Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 are the three main animal protection legislation in India. In addition to these three, there are further rules that apply only to certain activities, such as The Performing Animals Rules of 1973, The Transport of Animals Rules of 1978, and The Experiments on Animals (Control And Supervision) Rules of 1968.

Constitutional provisions

Various Articles in the Indian Constitution were created to safeguard and preserve the rights of animals in India. Part IV of the Constitution contains The Directive Principles of State Policy, which includes Article 48, which enables the state to manage agricultural and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines, as well as protect breeds and outlaw the slaughter of cows, calves, and other milch and draught animals. Article 48A says that the state shall make every effort to protect and defend the environment, the forest, and the wildlife, and states that the state shall make every effort to preserve and safeguard the environment, the forest, and the wildlife.

Part IV A of the Constitution declares that every citizen has basic fundamental rights, which include a duty to maintain and improve the natural environment under Article 51A(g). The Indian Constitution also gives the parliament and state legislatures the right to create legislation to combat animal cruelty and to protect wild animals and birds, as stated in Article 246 read with the Constitution’s Seventh Schedule. The Panchayat is empowered to create legislation on animal husbandry, dairying, and poultry under Article 243G and the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution.

Article 243W, when read in conjunction with the Constitution’s Twelfth Schedule, allows municipalities to enact rules regarding cattle pounds and the prevention of animal cruelty.

The 1972 Wildlife Protection Act 

In order to protect and conserve wild animals as well as to stop smuggling and illegal wildlife trade, the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972 was passed. It safeguards the world's threatened species.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 (PCA) is a piece of legislation that only applies to domestic and confined animals. The Act's goal is to stop situations like the ones recounted at the start of the narrative where animals are put through needless pain or suffering. According to the Act, an animal is any living being that is not a human. Since both domestic and captive animals are covered by the law, it also defines what each of these categories of animals is. The act imposes a fine between Rs. 10 to Rs. 50 in the case of a first offense. This may extend up to Rs. 100 in case of subsequent offense within 3 years, and/or imprisonment for up to 3 months.

The Act also created India's Animal Welfare Board (AWBI) to advance animal welfare and defend animals against cruelty. The Board's primary duties include upholding the legislation in India, recommending necessary measures to enhance animal circumstances, and advising the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairy on how to implement the Act's regulations. Over 3,661 animal welfare organizations were recognized by AWBI as of July 2021 in India. Along with other things, the board finances the upkeep of animal shelters, medications, medical gear, and running veterinarian camps. Although AWBI advises the Union and State governments, the State government's main responsibility is to implement legislative laws.

"Photo of Dogs Near Fence" by Helena Lopes from Pexels

Supreme Court on Animal Rights

The Supreme Court of India ruled in the case of the Animal Welfare Board of India vs. Nagraja & Ors. in 2014 that "Jalikattu is cruelty to Bulls" and outlawed the practice. "Jallikattu, Bullock Cart Race, and such event per se violate Sections 3, 11(1)(a), and 11(1)(ii) of the PCA Act," the court had noted. "The rights provided to the Bulls under Sections 3 and 11 of the PCA Act read with Articles 51A(g) & (h) cannot be taken away or limited," the court ruled. Importantly, the Court has ruled that Article 21 of the Constitution, which upholds the Right to Life, also applies to animals. The Court stated in this regard that: "Article 21 of the Constitution, while defending the rights of people, also extends to animals." Since the concept of "life" has been enlarged to include all kinds of life, including animal life, which are necessary for human existence, any disturbance from this basic environment is considered to be a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.

What Are the Changes Required in PCA Act 1960?

Despite the prevalence and regularity of stoning or beating animals, the crime occasionally assumes bizarre and perverted forms. The social media storm has been advocating for a modification to the decades-old Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act during the upcoming monsoon session of parliament. Animal rights organizations call the sanctions for various animal cruelty offenses mandated by the Animal Cruelty Prevention Act, which was passed in 1960 and came into effect in 1974. According to this harsh law, the maximum fine for a first-time offender is simply fifty rupees.

Animal rights advocates are requesting that the law be modified to penalize heinous animal abuse using the hashtag #NoMore50. In February of this year, the Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairy proposed amendments to the 60-year-old statute. Despite the proposal's introduction, the legislature did nothing with it during that session. Therefore, right before the start of a new session of parliament, animal advocates are organizing to lobby for the approval of these laws.

No previous amendments to the law have been made. The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), according to Chinny Krishna, a former vice-chairman of the organization, wrote an animal welfare bill in 2011 and submitted it to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (now, Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change). On the other side, the administration did nothing.

Previously, fines between Rs 10 and Rs 50 may be imposed for any unkind behavior. This includes beating, kicking, torturing, starving, overburdening, overriding, and mutilating an animal. The proposed draught substitutes a clause that would subject violators to fines of up to 75,000 rupees, or three times the animal's value if they intentionally cause the death of an animal.

"Tiger Photography" by Kamil Zubrzycki from Pexels


The laws and regulations prohibiting animal cruelty are hardly ever upheld. Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code make cruelty to animals a crime that is punishable. Animal cruelty incidences are increasing in India daily, though, because the norms and laws are not being upheld. People that are money-hungry sell animal body parts for their own financial advantage. It's essential to have an emotional connection with and appreciation for animals. Animal rights groups like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) may accomplish a lot with the assistance of regional groups and the public.

In India, it's not unusual to see animals running loose on the streets. Pets among them receive special attention from their owners, however, stray animals are frequently neglected and mistreated. Humans must treat stray animals and domesticated animals equally and recognize the importance of all life.

Each year, thousands of animals are killed for human consumption and in labs for medical study, but the majority of the animals are maintained under close supervision to test cosmetics, medications, and other things. People who are accused of animal cruelty must face harsh punishment from the authorities.

Monitoring the number of street animals regular basis is essential to prevent the cruel treatment of animals. The rapidly expanding animal population in metropolitan settings may make people feel uneasy and induce them to oppose living active lives. All of these situations lead to the brutal and harsh treatment of animals. Society may assist in preventing animal cruelty by routinely monitoring and supervising specific locations. The witness is responsible for contacting the witness' responsibility to contact the animal services agency in severe situations of animal cruelty. Only if individuals follow the rules and take care of the animals will animal abuse be stopped.

Most measures to stop cruel and violent behavior toward animals depend on how individuals see other living forms. The killing of animals without permission must be controlled. Police must conduct appropriate checks to ensure that the movement is legally permitted. Additionally, when this happens, animals are mistreated when they board the cars. In order to get to the destination, the transporter must be considerate of the animals, correctly board them, and operate the truck. The automobiles of rude drivers should also be seized as part of a severe fine. Barbaric acts of animal abuse in India are unlikely to end until people are willing to recognize and respect wildlife as equals.


In conclusion, it can be said that India's current animal regulations are not stringent enough to punish animal abusers. Additionally, the rules are insufficient to satisfy the demands of a changing world. India should follow Austria's lead, which is regarded as the world's safest and greatest country for animals. Some of the harshest animal protection legislations are found in Austria.

The widespread brutality against animals has not only made their lives miserable but has also subjected them to a lifetime of mental torment and anguish. Animals' deadliest adversaries are now humans, once thought regarded as their companions. It is imperative that we continue to enforce our animal regulations, which date back to the British era. The current rule, which imposes a modest Rs. 50 punishments, makes clear how highly valued an animal's life is. A draught proposal was been made to make significant changes to the PCA Act, 1960 starting in 2021. The draught suggests a fine of up to Rs. 75000 or three times the cost of an animal, along with a sentence of up to five years in prison.

In light of the current situation, it is crucial to remember that severe regulations alone won't be enough to stop animal abuse; instead, actions should be taken to teach children to be kind, moral, compassionate, and empathic with animals and to treat them with respect. In Geeta Seshamani v. Union of India in 2008, the Indian Supreme Court mandated the creation of State Animal Welfare Boards in every state. The States shall abide by the aforementioned directive and take the initiative to save the lives of defenseless animals while punishing criminals. Each person should recognize that "Animals too have a right to life" and work to protect it, along with the Union and the State Government to end animal cruelty and improve the conditions for animals worldwide.


This article is authored by Aishwarya Venkateshwaran, a student of the online course of Animal Law Fundamentals taught and supervised by Lu Shegay. The course was generously sponsored by the Food System Innovations.

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