Since time, immemorial India has been known to be a country where animals are not only considered as an integral part of the universe, but have also been worshiped. According to Hindu mythology, Cow, tiger, lion, elephant, horse, bull, snake, monkey are worshipped. However, on one hand where we have people mark their devotion to deities and the animals associated with them in temples, on the other hand the animals are also subject to cruelty in places like circuses.
Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic, which consequently resulted in a lockdown for three months, humans have experienced depression. Critically, it is also time to reflect on what the caged animals in zoos and circuses go through having lived most of their lives.
A couple of cases of cruelty towards animals have come to light in the past few weeks which have enraged many and made one ponder as to whether the laws in existence are sufficient enough to protect animals. The most recent of all incidents of cruelty that have taken place this year, are that of killing of a pregnant elephant from Kerala, a pregnant cow from Himachal Pradesh and a jackal from Tamil Nadu. I state these incidents together as these have the same method used to seriously injure/kill them. In all three cases, the poor animals were fed explosives covered with some kind of edibles.
Earlier, in 2019 an incident came to light where in Uttar Pradesh a tigress was brutally beaten with sticks, under a protected zone of the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve. Another inhumane incident saw the light of the day in September 2019 when a video of a nilgai (antelope) being pushed into a pit in Bihar and buried alive got viral. It is unimaginable to think that New Delhi has its very own ‘Serial dog killer’ who allegedly beat, stabbed and killed three dogs and a puppy. What is even more disheartening is that certain sadistic people are deriving pleasure out of torturing animals on social media platforms like TikTok to increase their followers/views. A video of two children throwing a dog in a pond after tying his legs, another horrific video of a man hanging a cat from fan with a rope around her neck among several others have been permitted to be uploaded on Tiktok.
There are several laws under the Constitution Of India, Indian Penal Code (IPC), Prevention of cruelty to Animals, (Slaughterhouse) Rules, 2001, Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA Act) to mention a few for the safety, protection, punishment in cases of animal cruelty. Article 48A, Article 51A(g), Sections 428 and 429 of the IPC lay out rules against animal cruelty among other Rules and a Acts of Indian Constitution. Rule 3 of Slaughterhouse Rules, 2001 also states that animal sacrifice is illegal in every part of the country. In addition, certain wildlife crimes are also investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
Around the world, animal abuse is treated differently in different countries. Austria, UK and Hong Kong are the top three countries that find mention on the list of countries having strictest Animal Welfare laws. Austria is regarded as one of the safest and best countries for animals in the entire world. The protection and well being of animals and that of humankind is measured on the same pedestal as suggested under the Austrian Animal Welfare Act 2004. The fines in case of violation of the laws can be anywhere from $2,420 up to $18,160 in cases of extreme cruelty.
The Supreme Court India in 2014 held jallikattu as cruelty to bulls and banned the same, however, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act of 2017 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017 opened the gates for running the popular bull-taming sport in the name of tradition. The Supreme Court in 2014, in a case titled - Animal Welfare Board of India v. Nagraja&Ors., recognized the Right to Life as enshrined under Article 21 of the COI, to extend to animals as well.NGOs and animal rights activists condemn these brazen killings and inhumane acts however there is now an immediate need to make stricter laws.
It was commendable when the Uttar Pradesh government, under the leadership of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, took a step by approving draft of the Uttar Pradesh Cabinet Cow Slaughter Prevention (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020, to protect cows and prevent their slaughter, providing a maximum rigorous imprisonment of 10 years and a fine up to Rs 5 lakh. Now this ordinance calls for similar and more robust and effective measures to be taken by the Centre in Toto.