Which legal sections the police should charge the accused in animal cruelty? (PART 1 of the series of Legal Help for Animals)

The current legal rights in India and more importantly, their enforcement, are abysmal to say the least. However, if approached in a systematic way, there is still hope of securing justice for poor animals, who suffer unimaginable cruelty daily at the hands of humans.

Most citizens who are animal lovers do not know the exact law, and the sections inter-alia which become applicable when harm or injury is caused to animals. Such is the pathetic awareness about laws that citizens even don’t know that causing injury to an animal is a crime. This is a first part of the series in which we bring forth the legal aspects that can be availed in cases of animal cruelty.

Major laws under which an accused can be booked are –

  1. Indian Penal Code, 1860
  2. The Prevention of Animals to Cruelty Act, 1960
  3. Delhi Police Act, 1978

Let us have a look at the legal sections of the aforementioned acts. The same are reproduced below verbatim as they appear in the respective acts in legal language –

1. Indian Penal Code, 1860

Relevant Sections are: Section 428 and Section 429:

  • Section 428: MISCHIEF BY KILLING OR MAIMING ANIMAL OF THE VALUE OF TEN RUPEES.

Whoever commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless any animal or animals of the value of ten rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.

CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENCE

Punishment—Imprisonment for 2 years, or fine, or both—Cognizable—Bailable— Triable by any Magistrate—Compoundable by the owner of the animal with the permission of the court.

  • Section 429: MISCHIEF BY KILLING OR MAIMING CATTLE, ETC., OF ANY VALUE OR ANY ANIMAL OF THE VALUE OF FIFTY RUPEES.

Whoever commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless, any elephant, camel, horse, mule, buffalo, bull, cow or ox, whatever may be the value thereof, or any other animal of the value of fifty rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both.

CLASSIFICATION OF OFFENCE

Punishment—Imprisonment for 5 years, or fine, or both—Cognizable—Bailable— Triable by any Magistrate of the first class—Compoundable by the owner of the cattle or animal with the permission of the court.

2. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

  • Section 11. Treating animals cruelly.

(1) If any person―

(a) beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering or causes or, being the owner permits, any animal to be so treated; or

(b) employs in any work or labour or for any purpose any animal which, by reason of its age or any disease, infirmity, wound, sore or other cause, is unfit to be so employed or, being the owner, permits any such unfit animal to be so employed;

(c) wilfully and unreasonably administers any injurious drug or injurious substance to [any animal] or wilfully and unreasonably causes or attempts to cause any such drug or substance to be taken by [any animal]; or

(d) conveys or carries, whether in or upon any vehicle or not, any animal in such a manner or position as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering; or

(e) keeps or confines any animal in any cage or other receptacle which does not measure sufficiently in height, length and breadth to permit the animal a reasonable opportunity for movement; or

(f) keeps for an unreasonable time any animal chained or tethered upon an unreasonably short or unreasonably heavy chain or cord; or

(g) being the owner, neglects to exercise or cause to be exercised reasonably any dog habitually chained up or kept in close confinement; or

(h) being the owner of [any animal] fails to provide such animal with sufficient food, drink or shelter; or

(i) without reasonable cause, abandons any animal in circumstances which render it likely that it will suffer pain by reason of starvation or thirst; or

(j) wilfully permits any animal, of which he is the owner, to go at large in any street while the animal is affected with contagious or infectious disease or, without reasonable excuse permits any diseased or disabled animal, of which he is the owner, to die in any street; or

(k) offers for sale or, without reasonable cause, has in his possession any animal which is suffering pain by reason of mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or other ill-treatment; or

(l) multilates any animal or kills any animal (including stray dogs) by using the method of strychnine injections in the heart or in any other unnecessarily cruel manner; or

(m) solely with a view to providing entertainment—

(i) confines or causes to be confined any animal (including tying of an animal as a bait in a tiger or other sanctuary) so as to make it an object of prey for any other animal; or

(ii) incites any animal to fight or bait any other animal; or organises, keeps, uses or acts in the management of, any place for animal fighting or for the purpose of baiting any animal or permits or offers any place to be so used or receives money for the admission of any other person to any place kept or used for any such purposes; or

(o) promotes or takes part in any shooting match or competition wherein animals are released from captivity for the purpose of such shooting; he shall be punishable, in the case of a first offence, with fine which shall not be less than ten rupees but which may extend to fifty rupees and in the case of a second or subsequent offence committed within three years of the previous offence, with fine which shall not be less than twenty-five rupees but which may extend to one hundred rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with both

(2) For the purposes of sub-section (1), an owner shall be deemed to have committed an offence if he has failed to exercise reasonable care and supervision with a view to the prevention of such offence:

Provided that where an owner is convicted of permitting cruelty by reason only of having failed to exercise such care and supervision, he shall not be liable to imprisonment without the option of a fine.

3. Delhi Police Act, 1978

  • Section 99 – Punishment for cruelty to animals.

Whoever in any place cruelly beats, goads, overworks, ill-treats or tortures or causes, or procures to be cruelly beaten, goaded, overworked, ill-treated or tortured, any animal shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment which may extend to one month, or with fine which may extend to one hundred rupees, or with both.

  • Section 81 – Causing obstruction or mischief by animal.

No person shall cause obstruction, damage, injury, danger, alarm or mischief in any street or public place—

(i) by misbehavior, negligence or ill-usage in the driving, management, treatment or care of any animal or vehicle; or

(ii) by driving any vehicle or animal laden with timber, poles or other unwieldy articles through a street or public place contrary to any regulation made in that behalf.

  • Section 77 – Power of police officer to unsaddle animal or to unload it.

When a police officer in good faith suspects that any animal being employed in any work or labour is, by reason of any sore, unfit to be so employed, he may require the person in charge of such animal to unsaddle or unload it for the purpose of ascertaining whether any sore exists and, if any person refuses to do so, such police officer may himself unsaddle or unload the animal or may cause the same to be unsaddled or unloaded.