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 India is one of the most bio-diverse hotspots in the world.  It is home to animals from the Bengal Tigers to the Great Indian Rhinoceros and has taken a prominent position in the country in recent years for animal protection and welfare. Indian Penal Code 1860 is the official criminal code of India which covers all the basic aspects of criminal law.  Sections 428 and 429 of the IPC provide for the punishment of all forms of cruelty such as murder, poisoning, mimicking, or rendering useless animals useless.  The above laws have been enacted to alleviate the unnecessary pain and suffering of the animal and such laws continue to be enforced as per the changed circumstances.  Despite the existence of specific laws, more protection for animals falls under general concepts such as torture laws, constitutional laws, etc.

  Do animals have any rights?

  There are various codes and conventions internationally that work to protect animals.

  Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

  Terrestrial Animal Health Code Health

Organizations for animal health etc.

  Thus, animal rights are recognized worldwide.

  Constitution of India-

  The Constitution of Indias tates that it is the duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for all animals.  This constitutional obligation to protect animals is complemented by the State Policy Guidelines under Article 48A that.

  The state will strive to protect and improve the environment and protect the country’s forests and wildlife.

  Both the above constitutional provisions were introduced in 1976 by the 42nd Amendment.  Although they were not directly applicable to Indian courts, they were based on laws, policies, and state directives on animal protection at the central and state levels.  Furthermore, they adopt broader judicial interpretations and can be applied to court by bringing them under Article 21 of the Fundamental Right to Life and Freedom, which is judicially applicable.

  Animal Law Development in India –

  Laws to protect animals date back to the 17th century.  In 1641 the Puritans of the Massachusetts Bay Colony enacted the first anti-oppression provision for animals, the ‘Body of Liberties’.  Several countries like Brazil, China, Egypt, Ecuador, Germany, Serbia, Switzerland, etc.  Recognize the rights of animals under their constitution.  Animal law in India precedes the enactment of the Constitution of India, which also recognizes the rights of animals but in an indirect way.  The proper development of animal laws in India was marked by the enactment of the ‘Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960’.[1]  Another major law in India is the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. In the next section, we will discuss the provisions of these two laws along with the Constitution of India.  In addition to these laws, there are other laws in the form of rules, dealing with specific areas of animal law for the protection and welfare of animals.  For example the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  Rules, 1979;  Performing Animals Amendment Rules, 2001;  Animal Transport Rules, 2009;  Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Rules, 2010;  Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Case Property Care and Maintenance of Animals) Rules, 2017, etc. The Government has also drafted a Prevention of Cruelty to Laws, 1911, to substitute 1960.  However, it has not yet taken effect.


  In the current scenario of Covid-19, while each country is researching to create a vaccine to eradicate this epidemic at the same time millions of rats, cats, dogs, rabbits, etc., everyone is being tried.  The kind of horrible environment the animals had to face is very scary.  Almost all of them will die after enduring a lot of pain and experiencing torture.  Animal testing for cosmetic products was banned across India through the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules  2014.  However, this issue needs more attention today, it would not be wrong to say that there is not much contribution by law or judiciary in this regard.  The current law in India needs to be amended to a more stringent law. We see a glimmer of hope from the judiciary, as all the judgments passed by the Hon’ble Court are great steps towards human rights.  The recent liberal rulings should be seen as a strong start to strengthening animal rights, but the inclusion of animals in larger positions has left room for further litigation.  Undoubtedly India has exceptionally complex and passed animal conservation law, they are not regularly taken to the ground level.  The need of the hour is to sensitize this serious problem and work for its development without leaving its mark on future generations.

By Moumita Muhuri

3rd year of Shyambazar Law College.

[1] Animal rights in India: The most underrated topic of environmental law-

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