Cruelty on animals is a crime in which they are inflicted with pain mostly physically which may even cause the death of the animal. The inflicted pain is beyond the necessity for normal discipline. It also includes withholding the necessities of the animal (food and water) which can lead to the suffering of the animal and even death. The problem of animal cruelty is not only in India but is a global problem that is clear from the statistics of various nations.
There are several reasons for this cruelty including religious beliefs, lack of respect for animals, etc. The Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act in India was brought to ensure that animals are protected from such behaviour and it provides for strict punishment in case of violation. This has been ably backed up by various case laws in India.
Animals also are creatures that deserve respect and protection from human beings. They do not harm people but given our encroachment in most of the wildlife space, their retaliation is obvious. Animal cruelty comprises all activities that threaten the well being of an animal. Generally, an animal is considered in distress if:-
- It is not provided adequate food and water alongside shelter.
- Injured, sick, in pain or suffering
- Abused or neglected.
The California Penal Code defines animal cruelty as the malicious or intentional maiming, mutilation, torture, or wounding of a living animal or maliciously and intentionally killing an animal.
Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 prohibits any person from inflicting or causing pain on any animal. It also provides that beating, kicking, torturing, mutilating, or cruelly killing an animal is a crime. The Act imposes an obligation on owners that they must provide animals with sufficient food, drinks, or shelter and in case they fail to do so, they have committed an offence.
The recent incident in Kerala is one of the lists of many inhuman happenings against animals. On May 27 a 15-year old pregnant elephant was found dead in the Velliyar River in the Silent valley forest in Kerala. The forest officers suggested that the reason for the death may be the unbearable pain caused because of the broken jaw. The Environment Ministry on June 6 has tweeted that the primary investigation has revealed that accidental consumption of a pineapple filled with powerful crackers could be the reason for her death. More will come about the occurrence after a detailed investigation but one thing is for sure that fruit does not automatically get filled by powerful crackers and therefore human intervention in the scene cannot be denied. Whether the act was accidental or intentional is a matter of investigation but it has taken two lives which brings us to an important question that why all these laws are able to do nothing and are animal’s life less important than a human.
REASONS FOR THIS NEGLECT
There is no specific reason for animal cruelty. It is possible just because of the self-interest of the individual or can involve a variety of reasons.
- Seeing animals as objects – Animals are often regarded as objects not individuals of sentiments having their own needs and emotions. They are often used by men to achieve our purposes and this result in animal cruelty.
- Using animals for monetary gains – Many times animals are used for the purpose of making profits. The very common example being the slaughter of innocent animals for selling their meat and by-products.
- No regards towards feelings and emotions of animals – Research shows that in most cases of animal cruelty the offender believes that the animals truly don’t emote. But there have been several instances when it is shown that animals feel pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow.
- Religious practices – Many religions provide for sacrifices and other activities which tend to harm them and this leaves people who follow his beliefs with no other option but to continue with these traditions without thinking of the pain and sufferings of these animals.
The data collected by the National Incident-based Reporting System provides that in 2018 the national average of animal cruelty offences were 4.43 cases per 10,000. This is an increase in the average of animal cruelty cases which was 0.30 per 10,000 in 2017 and 0.11 per 10,000 in 2016. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has provided in its 2018 report that they investigated 1,30,700 cases of animal cruelty and secure 1,678 convictions by private prosecutions. These numbers are a big issue of concern and with the graph going up; they can be even more serious in years to come.
- State of U.P. v. Mustakeem and others – In this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that in cases where animals are treated with a cruelty which is a violation of the provision of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the animals will not be returned to the owner but will be given to the nearest gaushala or pinjrapole i.e. giving the responsibility of maintenance to the state.
- Gauri Maulekhi v. Union of India and others– The Apex Court directed for several welfare measures as well as strict implementation of the rules of the prohibition of smuggling of animals across country borders as per section 5 of the Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992.
- Animal Welfare Board of India v. A Nagaraja and others– In this casethe recognized animal dignity and honour as part of Article 21 of the Constitution. The court was of the view that Jallikattu is illegal because it violates section 3 and 11 of the PCA Act, 1960 as it provides for the animal fight which is incited by humans and this case brought an important conclusion that Animal sacrifice cannot be allowed just because they are in line with religious belief and practices.
Animal rights are neglected because as human beings we look only for our interests. Though we have codified laws for animal cruelty with strict punishments this does not end our responsibilities, we have to follow these laws in letter & spirit so that a healthy ecological environment develops which is good for all the species on the planet. Few simple things every individual can do is respecting animal sentiment, if you witness animal abuse report it otherwise we are confronting the abuser, avoid attending events which victimize animals because paying for it is an implied consent of support to such activities. Further one can even join an animal rights organization for their welfare.
 Cal. Penal Code § 597 (West 2011)
 Act no. 59 of 1960
 @MoEF&CC, Twitter (June 6, 2020, 18:37 IST), https://twitter.com/moefcc/status/1269254587896209414?s=08
 Animal Cruelty Reporting Scorecard, ANIMAL WELFARE INSTITUTE (June 10, 2020, 10 PM) https://awionline.org/content/animal-cruelty-reporting-scorecard
 Facts and figures, RSPCA, (June 10, 2020, 10 PM) https://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/latest/facts#:~:text=Our%202018%20stats&text=carried%20out%20211%2C699%20microchippings%2C%20neuterings,those%20who%20break%20the%20laws
 Criminal Appeal no. 283-287/2002
 WP(C) 881/2014
 Act no. 22 of 1992
 (2014) 7 SCC 547