Unfortunate as it is, most of the Indian streets are riled with blatant apathy towards animal lives. The callousness in civic societies is far worse – where a handful of humans who care for the stray animals are often met with unbelievable ridicule and resistance.
It is not that there aren’t animal laws in India – but the ineptness to implement them and the severity of punishment leaves them crippled.
It is a fundamental duty upon every citizen of India to protect wildlife and have compassion for all living creatures.Article 51A(G), Indian Constitution
Here are some laws put forth in the constitution to uphold the rights of the voiceless and activists who work towards animal welfare.
Animal Laws in India to protect stray dogs
Stray dogs are protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA), 1960, and rules enacted under Section 38 of the act, particularly, the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001; Indian Penal Code, sections 428 & 429 and Article 51A (g) of the Constitution.
- Street dogs cannot be beaten, killed or driven away or displaced or dislocated, they can only be sterilized in the manner envisaged in The Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, vaccinated, and then returned back to their original locations. The stray dogs can be sterilized only when they’ve attained the age of at least 4 months and not before that.
- Killing, maiming, poisoning or rendering useless of any animal is punishable by imprisonment for up to two years or with fine or with both, under Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
- As per Section 11 (i) of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 abandoning an animal, leaving it in a situation that it suffers pain due to starvation or thirst, is a punishable offence.
- The Delhi High Court states that there are no laws that prohibit people from feeding stray animals. It is a crime to threaten, abuse or harass neighbours who feed animals. (Section 506)
Your rights to pet ownership – RWA
Pet ownership comes with a set of responsibilities – not only to the pet but to the neighbours too. RWA can place reasonable requests like – allotting pet corners, defecation rules, asking for regular vaccinations etc. As long as you are not causing a nuisance, you have a right to keep a pet.
RWA cannot ask you to disown your pet.
If you feel threatened or targeted because of keeping a pet – you can do the following:
RWA can’t make laws on their whims to disallow pet companionship.
- Reach out to local SPCA or any other animal welfare organization. They will usually talk to the RWA and make them understand the laws – it should end there. You can also write a letter to municipal corporation.
- You can file a complaint with the nearest local police station under Section 428, 429 IPC (Indian Penal Code) if the RWA is not cooperative.
- You may contact the Animal Welfare Board of India in case your pet or any other animal is under threat.
- You can reach out to Ms Meneka Gandhi. Mention the registered address of the RWA and fax number if any. A letter from official MP letterhead usually knocks some sense into RWAs.
- The Registrar of Societies (RoS) can take action against or even dissolve an RWA for its unwarranted approach towards a pet-owning family.
- Action can be initiated against RWA members under Section 2 (1)(g) of the Consumers Protection Act. (District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum)
Animals laws to protect pets
The Animal Protection (Dogs) Rules, 2001 provide for rules relating to pet and street dogs.
- Keeping, or confining any animal chained for long hours with a heavy chain or chord amounts to cruelty on the animal and punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to 3 months or both.
- If an owner fails to provide its pet with sufficient food, drink or shelter, he/she shall be liable for punishment according to section 11 (1) (h) of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is a punishable offence.
- Any person who, without any reasonable cause, abandons an animal in such a situation where the animal is bound to suffer pain due to starvation or thirst- Section 11 (i)
- Any owner of an animal who consciously allows an infected, diseased or disabled animal to go into any street without any permit or leave the animal to die in any street- Section 11 (j)
- Any person intimidating another person and preventing him/her, who is the owner of a pet, from keeping or taking care of his/her pet can be held liable under Section 503 of the IPC.
On March 12, 2020, World Animal Protection released the 2nd edition of global Animal Protection Index (API) 2020, where India gained C grade on a scale of A-G.
While societies may have dog lovers, dog haters and those who don’t really care – amicable ways to drive awareness for animal laws can really help bridge the gap. Any aggression or hostility that the dogs may be subjected to, will only render them aggressive, and hostile to humans.
How to use Animal laws?
If you come across a situation that is in violation of animal rights, you can either send a legal notice to the individual/group of animal abusers yourself through a lawyer or report the matter to an NGO which would do that for you. In case no action is being taken by the abuser even after sending the notice, you can file an official complaint.
Here’s a list of NGOs in Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata and Pune that you may reach out to.
To ensure that authorities actually take action, please seek help from NGOs – many of them have legal outreach and it helps move the machinery. You may also reach out to journalists over social media – similarly politicians or higher authorities (unfortunately that’ how the cookie crumbles sometimes).
Try raising awareness in your neighbourhoods and societies – strays can also be trained to be guard dogs. Along with colony guards, they can provide an additional security cover.
While the severity of punishment(s) is still not that harsh and needs to be revisited real soon, one can hope that animal laws act as a deterrent to those who try to take the law in hand. We hope that awareness regarding these laws would help people to report and stand up for the animals.