April 11, 2023

Punishment for Animal Cruelty in India

This article has been written by Ms. Leezer Kaur, a 3rd-year student at the Army Institute of Law, Mohali.


Animals are an integral part of our ecosystem. They deserve a peaceful life just like we human beings do. But nobody cares about animal rights just because they can’t stand up and ask for it. We make them suffer for our selfish needs or even for the sake of fun. The term ‘cruelty’ refers to an act of physically or mentally causing harm to someone. ‘Animal cruelty’ refers to an act that causes harm or injury to an animal and it includes the act of killing an animal. It also involves depriving an animal of necessities like food, water, shelter, etc. for its survival. It has become a matter of international concern and needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Further, the punishment for causing harm to an animal is much lesser than that of what is given for the same harm being caused to a human being.


The following are the common instances of animal cruelty:

  1. Shooting and Hunting of animals like deer, lions, tigers, etc. to showcase one’s bravery.
  2. Neglect of pets and domestic animals by their owners, by not providing them with adequate living conditions, food, shelter, etc.
  3. Organizing animal fights like bullfighting for the sake of fun.
  4. Acts of violence and abandonment by the owners.
  5. Use of animals like lions and elephants in circuses, filmmaking, and other purposes.
  6. Use of animals for commercial breeding purposes.
  7. Chaining or caging of animals.
  8. Cultural rituals of animal sacrifice like goat sacrifice in Hindu cultures.
  9. Use of animals like horses and elephants in wars.
  10. Mutilation of animals.
  11. Use of animals for testing products or in case of scientific experiments.
  12. Uses of animals for commercial purposes like to obtain skins and fur for decoration purposes.
  13. Use of animals like chicks, pigs, etc, for meat purposes.


  1. Article 48A of the Constitution of India provides that the state bears the duty to protect and improve the environment and safeguard our forests and wildlife.
  2. Article 51A(g) of the Indian Constitution makes it a fundamental duty of the citizens to protect and improve the natural environment including wildlife and to be compassionate towards other living creatures.
  3. In the case of N.R. Nair v. Union of India, the court held that the provisions of our constitution under Article 48A and Article 51A apply in the case of animals as well.
  4. The doctrine of parens patrie also provides that the state shall protect its subjects but now it is also applied to animals.
  5. State list provides the power to make laws related to the preservation, protection, and improvement of animal stock and the prevention of animal diseases. The Concurrent list provides the power to the state and the central government to make laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals and the protection of wild animals and birds.
  6. In the case of Animal Welfare Board of India v. Nagaraja and Ors., the Supreme court of India observed that Article 51A(g) of our Constitution is the Magna Carta of rights of the animals and also held that Article 21 provides the right to life and personal liberty not only to human beings but also to the animals. In this case, the court banned the practice of Jallikattu.
  7. In the case of Abdul Hakim Qureshi v. State of Bihar, the Supreme Court observed Article 48 of the Indian Constitution applies to cows, calves, and other animals with the ability to produce milk or work as draught animals. The court upheld the ban on the killing of cows by Muslims in their religious customs.
  8. INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860: 
  1. Section 428 of the code provides punishment of up to 2 years or fine or both for the commission of mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming any animal of value more than ten rupees.
  2. Section 429 provides punishment of up to five years or a fine or both to those who commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming, any elephant, camel, horse, bull, buffalo, cow, ox, or any other animal of value more than fifty rupees.

It is an important legislation dealing with the cases of animal cruelty enacted by the central government under the concurrent list of powers. It provides for the establishment of Animal Welfare Organisations across the country. In the case of Gauri Maulekhi v. State of Uttrakhand and Ors., the court held that animals cannot be treated with cruelty otherwise it will violate Section 11(3)(e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and would be punishable according to the provisions of the act.


It aims to protect and preserve wildlife animals, protect endangered species, and prevent illegal trading and smuggling of wildlife animals. It prohibits the hunting of wild animals and the use of their skins and products for decoration purposes by the people. It criminalizes cruelty to animals and provides for punishment of up to a three-year term or a fine of rupees twenty-five thousand, or both. It prohibits engaging animals in any type of fighting or shooting-related competitions and also makes it the responsibility of the owner to provide the animal with adequate food, shelter, and care. 

Also, some rules like The Performing Animals Rules, 1973; The Experiments on animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1968 and The Transport of Animals Rules, 1978 are present that are used to prevent specific acts of animal cruelty.


  1. In 2013, the government has prohibited the use of dolphins for entertainment purposes.
  2. In 2014, the government banned the import of animal-tested cosmetics and also, illegal cattle transport without a license.
  3. In 1972, the government launched a wildlife conservation project known as Project Tiger. Similarly, Project Elephant was launched in 1992.
  4. Crocodile Conservation Project was also launched and 4000 alligators, 1800 crocodiles, and 1500 saltwater crocodiles.
  5. UNDP Sea Turtle Project was also launched in 1999 to conserve Olive Ridley Turtles.
  6. Also, Indian Rhino Vision and Project Snow Leopard were the latest projects undertaken by the government in 2020 and 2019.


The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act, of 1960 does not recognize the castration of cattle and destruction of stray dogs in a prescribed manner as acts of ‘animal cruelty’. The experimentation of animals for advancement of the society is also allowed under the act. An additional leeway under the act is that under Section 28 of the act, an act of killing an animal as a requirement for the religious ceremony is allowed and it also provides that it would not be considered an offense. Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, of 1960, the punishment for the act of animal cruelty is just fine of rupees ten to fifty on the first conviction and rupees twenty-five to hundred or imprisonment of three months or both on subsequent conviction. The punishment is inadequate as the act was enacted in 1960 and was not amended according to changes of the times. 

Recently, the Indian government has decided to amend the act by inserting Section 11A to deal with cases of gruesome cruelty including the act of bestiality. The punishment includes a fine of rupees 50,000 which may be extended up to rupees 75,000. Section 11B prescribes imprisonment of three years which may extend up to five years or a fine of up to rupees one lakh or both for the act of killing any animal, as per the new proposed amendment.


‘Animal cruelty’ refers to an act of causing physical, mental, or emotional harm to an animal. It includes killing, shooting, stabbing, neglecting, abandoning animals, etc. It is dealt with under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act, of 1960; the Wildlife Protection Act, of 1972, and the Indian Penal Code, of 1860, and punishments are prescribed under these legislations. The Constitution of India also provides that it is the duty of the state and the citizens to protect and preserve wildlife, the environment, and other living organisms. Also, a few amendments are proposed to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act, 1960 including the increase in punishment for acts of animal cruelty to provide strict regulations to deal with such issues.


  1. Abdul Hakim Qureshi v. State of Bihar.
  2. Animal Welfare Board of India v. Nagaraja and Ors.
  3. Gauri Maulekhi v. State of Uttrakhand and Ors.
  4. N.R. Nair v. Union of India.

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