Animal rights: India

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Animal rights: definition and extent

2018/ Uttarakhand HC: animals get similar rights as humans

Vineet Upadhyay, July 5, 2018: The Times of India


Uttarakhand high court while hearing a petition filed for the protection and welfare of animals declared “all members of the animal kingdom including birds and aquatic life have similar rights as humans” and ordained animals throughout the state should be treated as “legal entities having a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.”

The division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh further named “citizens throughout Uttarakhand persons in loco parentis as the human face for the welfare/protection of the animals.”

The court directed the state government to constitute societies for prevention of cruelty to animals in each district and to appoint infirmaries for the treatment and care of animals. The HC in its 57-page order banned use of “spike stick or bit, harness or yoke with spikes, knobs or projections or any other sharp tackle or equipment” throughout the state to “avoid bruises, swelling, abrasions or severe pain to animals.”

The judges cited in their order several articles as well as books like the Isha Upanishad, which they said dwell on the principle of equality of all species. They also cited a Supreme Court judgment, which had held that an animal, too, has honour and dignity which it cannot be arbitrarily deprived of and its rights and privacy have to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks.

The HC order came while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Narayan Dutt Bhatt, a resident of Banbasa in Champawat district near the India-Nepal border. The petitioner had sought to restrict the movement of horse carts/tongas between Nepal and India stating cruelty on horses and mules used in the carts.

The court ordered the nagar panchayat, Banbasa to “regulate the plying of horse carts/tongas from Banbasa to Nepal by issuing licenses to the owners by charging reasonable fee within one month and to ensure the medical examination of these animals.”

The court stated that since the carts driven by animals have no mechanical devices, they should be given the “Right of Way” and all the police officers throughout the state should ensure compliance of the rule.

In further directions, the division bench directed the vice-chancellor of the GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar to constitute a committee presided by the head of the department of veterinary sciences and two seniormost professors to undertake research to find out within twelve weeks whether the maximum weight prescribed under law in Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965 is reasonable or not.

“Animals should be provided water every two hours and food in every four hours. They should not be made to walk more than 2 hours at a stretch and while transported shall not be tied by nose or legs or any other part of the body except by its neck,” the judges directed.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

The essentials of the Act

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960; The Times of India, Dec 25, 2016

See graphic Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

2016: Fine for cruelty to animals

The Times of India, Mar 18, 2016

Paltry fine of Rs 50 allows abusers to get away with animal cruelty

Those who attacked and fractured a leg of Shaktiman, a police horse during a protest in Dehradun may have to pay a fine of only Rs 50 for the cruelty caused to the animal under the prevention of cruelty to animals act of 1960. If he or anyone else repeats such cruelty then the punishment is only a fine of up to Rs 100 or imprisonment for three months or both. Animal rights activists said Shaktiman has brought to the fore how abuse of animals is taken with little seriousness. They highlight how neither Congress nor BJP amended the archaic law to upgrade the penalties.

"Under the PC act such abuse is a non-cognizable bailable offence. The punishment in cases of animal abuse have to be compoundable. Just recently two truckloads of camel meat was seized in Mewat and the fine they had to pay was only Rs 100," said Gauri Maulekhi of People for Animals (PFA).

There are hardly any convictions of cases related to cruelty to animals. "I have filed several RTIs to get data on convictions but there is no record. I can say that less than 2% are convicted in Delhi and far lesser in other states," she added. Maulekhi also said even violations like use of oxytocin in dairy or cruelty caused during performances by animals all fall under the Rs 50 fine bracket.

In contrast, the draft animal welfare bill 2011, has far more stringent clauses. For cruelty to animals, it prescribes a fine of up to Rs 25,000 or imprisonment up to two years or both and for repeat offences a fine of up to Rs 1 lakh and imprisonment up to three years. The bill has not been enacted. It was resisted by researchers for the stringent clauses it spelt out for care of laboratory animals.

NG Jayasimha, lawyer and member of Animal Welfare Board of India said the attacker in Shaktiman's case may be given a stricter punishment because there are charges of disrupting police duty against him.

2017 rules

Vishwa Mohan, Public aquaria, dog breeding registry now a must to fight animal cruelty, May 28, 2017: The Times of India

All aquaria in public areas or shops selling fish for aquariums anywhere in the country will have to get registered and follow certain do's and don'ts to ensure that these aquatic creatures are kept in hygienic conditions.

The government has made registration compulsory by notifying new rules to regulate aquarium and fish tank animals (live fish or other live aquatic animals) under provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Local animal welfare boards will have the power to grant registration.

The registration rules are, however, not meant for people who keep aquariums inside their homes or private areas.The rules will only be applicable for aquariums on public display or for shops selling fish tank animals.

“Though such registration is not meant for people having aquariums inside their houses, they are also supposed to adhere to certain do's and don'ts to prevent cruelty . They must procure fish tank animals only from registered shops,“ said Gauri Maulekhi whose petition in the Delhi high court resulted in the notification of new rules.

As far as dog breeding is concerned, the rules mandate obtaining of a certificate of registration from local animal welfare board for breeding activity , ow ning or housing dogs for breeding or for sale of dogs and pups.

Under the Dog Breeding and Marketing Rules, such a certificate will be valid for a period of one year and it will not be transferable. The rules require the breeder to maintain records of all the animals housed in an establishment including the dogs being used for breeding and for sale.

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