All the rights we have as humans make us strong and help us live a more comfortable and convenient life. But we are not alone on this planet. We coexist with other animals, nature, and our atmosphere. As we have laws for the safety of humans we have laws for the protection of animals too.
Furthermore, there are effective animal welfare organizations in India. They support animal laws and stand up for their justice. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is a Central Legislation about animal protection laws in India. The main object of the Act is to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.
Animal Protection Under the Indian Constitution
The welfare and protection of animals are a fundamental duty of the citizens of India. There are certain animal protection rights which are as follows:
- Under the Constitution of India, Article 51A(g) protects animal rights. It states that it is a fundamental duty of every citizen of India to respect, protect wildlife, and treat all the living species with compassion.
- As per Article 48 of the Constitution of India, the State must organize agriculture and animal husbandry on scientific lines. The State can take steps for preservation and improving breeds. It can prohibit the slaughter of calves and cows and other draught cattle.
- Article 48A provides that the State also must protect, safeguard, and improve the forests and wildlife of the country.
Under the State List, Seventh Schedule provides that the State has the power and authority to:
- Preserve, protect, and improve stock and prevent animal diseases, and to enforce veterinary training and practice.
The Concurrent List provides that both the Centre and the State have the power and authority to:
- Prevent cruelty towards animals.
- Protect wild animals and birds.
Under the Eleventh Schedule (Article 243 G), the Panchayati Raj institutions possess duty and authority to deal with matters relating to:
- Animal husbandry, dairying, and poultry
Various Laws for Protection of Animals
We need to acquaint ourselves with the existing animal protection laws to take action. The loopholes can be filled-in and the laws can be made to be strictly applied. A list of animal protection laws in India are given as follows:
- The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is the Central Legislation about animal protection in India. The object of the Act is to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.
- The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 is another Central Act. It provides for the protection of wild birds, animals, plants, and other species.
Other laws are found in the following Rules which are as follows:
- The Dog Breeding and the Marketing Rules (2017)
- The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of the Livestock Markets) Rules (2017)
- The Prevention of Cruelty to the Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules (2017)
- The Prevention of Cruelty to the Animals (Care and Maintenance of Case Property Animals) Rules (2017)
- The Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules (2001)
Procedure To File a Complaint
In India, various Acts lay down the procedure for filing complaints about animal protection. The following steps will guide you over filing such complaint:
STEP 1: Sending a Legal Notice
You can send a legal notice to the person who has abused the animal. You can do this yourself or with the help of a lawyer. You can report the matter to the animal welfare organizations in India. They would help you to send legal notice. When the animal abuser does not respond to the legal notice, you can file an official complaint.
STEP 2: Registering the Wildlife Case
Different states give different names to an offense report. Preliminary Offence Report, Offence Report, First Information Report, Seizure Intimation are some examples. These are called wildlife offense reports and are used to make the reports more uniform. Under Section 50(4) of the (Wildlife Protection) Act, 1972 the reports are prepared. Animal welfare organizations and any individual can file a report against any abuse of animals in India.
STEP 3: Filing a Complaint in Support of the Rights of Animals
In case one wants to file a ‘complaint’ then one needs to approach a magistrate. An allegation is made orally or in writing. A forest officer can be approached, who can further file a complaint to the magistrate. Under Section 55 of the WLPA, the following persons can file a complaint to the magistrate:
- The Director of Wildlife Preservation or any other officer authorized on his behalf, by the Central Government, Members of Central Zoo Authority or Member – Secretary of Tiger Conservation Authority, Director of the concerned Tiger Reserve.
- The Chief Wildlife Warden
- Any person who has given another person or group notice of at least sixty days, of his intention to make a complaint.
STEP 4: Arrest by an Individual
Under the Wildlife Protection Act, the offenses are non-bailable and cognizable. Under Section 43 of the CrPC, an individual can arrest an offender who has committed a non-bailable and cognizable offense. Also, when someone who is a habitual offender and hands him/her over to the police.
Getting Authorities To Take Action
At times citizens are passionate about reporting an incident or about animal welfare in general. They might want to take action, but the concerned authorities may not cooperate with them. It is demotivating and leads people to think that reporting issues related to wildlife or animal welfare as useless. To ensure that authorities take action, you must make sure to do the following:
- You can befriend lawyers and journalists. Sometimes both of them are in exchange for money and sometimes pro bono. It will help you get your case through.
- Meet people in NGOs for animal welfare organizations in India. You can help the aggrieved animal or reprimand an abuser with the help of established animal welfare organizations in India. Animal welfare organizations in India have fought and won many cases in courts. They are a powerful force altogether.
- Try to call or write to higher authorities in case the authorities are not taking action immediately. You can write to politicians, media and so on.
- You can gather people and organize a peaceful protest or demonstration to put forward your claim.
- You can file a grievance on the website of the Animal Welfare Board of India.
In India, a lot of very elaborate and specific animal protection laws have been passed. However, they are not implemented often. The animal protection laws can work if we all stand together and act as cohabitants. We can make animal rights in India safer and animal-friendly.
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