The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

  •  The legislative intent of the Act is to “prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals”.
  • The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) was established in 1962 under Section 4 of the Act.
  • This Act provides for punishment for causing unnecessary cruelty and suffering to animals. The Act defines animals and different forms of animals.
  • Discusses different forms of cruelty, exceptions, and killing of a suffering animal in case any cruelty has been committed against it, to relieve it from further suffering.
  • Provides guidelines relating to experimentation on animals for scientific purposes.
  • The Act enshrines the provisions relating to the exhibition of the performing animals, and offences committed against the performing animals.
  • This Act provides for a limitation period of 3 months beyond which no prosecution shall lie for any offenses under this Act.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (amendment 2022)

Key provisions of the draft:

  • Community animals:
    • In the case of community animals, the local government shall be responsible for their care. 
    • The draft proposals introduce the community animal as – any animal born in a community for which no ownership has been claimed.
    • It excludes wild animals as defined under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (53 of 1972).
  • Five freedoms to animals:
    • The draft also proposes the insertion of a new Section 3A, which provides ‘five freedoms’ to animals.
    • It shall be the duty of every person having charge of an animal to ensure that the animal in his care or under his charge has: 
      • Freedom from thirst, hunger, and malnutrition; Freedom from discomfort due to environment; Freedom from pain, injury, and diseases; Freedom to express normal, behavior for the species; and 
      • Freedom from fear and distress.

Constitution mandate

  • The Constitution of India establishes a duty on both the State as well as on people to ensure security and conservation of animals at all costs.
  • Article 48A:
    • According to Article 48A, it is the responsibility of the State to improve the strength of animals and safeguard the wildlife of the country. It shall strive to enhance the population of animals and ensure that they are protected from all attacks.
  • Article 51A(g):
    • According to Article 51A(g), it is the Fundamental Duty of every citizen to protect and improve forests and wildlife and to have compassion for all living creatures.
  • Article 21:
    • Due to the expansive interpretation taken by the courts, the rights of the animals are also protected under Article 21 of the Constitution.

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