“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. – Mahatma Gandhi
In today’s world, there are many instances where it can be seen that animals are being beaten to death, stoning of stray dogs, hunting of animals just for fun or shooting birds etc. Animals are not being treated in the manner they should be; humans are just using animals for experimental purposes only. Humans are currently using animals as a mode to illegally experiment them with various drugs and vaccines that are essential for the betterment of mankind. However, some regulations must be made to regulate these experiments, as the rights of these animals are continuously being ignored. Humans are also considered as social animals, and if the humans have rights which can be enforced then an animal must also have rights that are enforceable in nature. In India, the legal status of animal rights and their experimentation is very vague and not properly structured.
There are few rights available to animals, but there is no one to enforce these rights except few animal shelters or NGO’s. Although the status regarding animal rights have become a hot topic and various organisations have adopted it as one of their campaigns. One of the organisations that are working for the welfare of animals is People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). PETA condemns animal exploitation, a human-supremacist ideology, and concentrates on the 4 categories in which the highest number of animals suffer the most for longest period: in research labs, in the food sector, in the clothing industry and in the entertainment sector.
Animal protection in India
Under the Indian constitution protection of animals is recognized under fundamental duties that are to be followed by every citizen of India. Article 51A(G) of the Indian constitution states that “It shall be 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 living creatures.” This duty clearly states that every citizen must safeguard wildlife and show compassion towards living creatures. However, the problem is that the fundamental duties are not enforceable in court, it states that it is a duty that every citizen must abide, but it is nowhere mentioned that by not performing any of the fundamental duty, one can get arrested for violation of any of the fundamental duty. So if any citizen ill-treats or harms an animal, then he could get out of it easily without any kind of punishment.
Article 48 of the Indian constitution states that it is the responsibility of the State to manage farming and livestock breeding on new, scientific standards and to take measures to conserve and improve breeds, ban the slaughter of cows and calves as well as other dairy and draught cattle. Similarly, Article 48A also provides for safeguarding and development of forest and wildlife of the country. These 2 Articles of the Indian constitution are concerned with the welfare of the livestock and it provides measures to improve the conditions of forest and wildlife.
There are 3 lists in the constitution of India in which parliament can make law on any of the subjects mentioned under these lists. Under List II, the state has the power to preserve, protect and improve stock and prevent animal diseases, and enforce veterinary training and practice. It is mentioned in List III that both the Centre and the State have the power and control to prevent animal abuse and to protect birds and wildlife.
The 1960 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is India’s most important animal safety law. The purpose of the Act is to avoid unnecessary harm and suffering inflicted on animals. This act prohibits inhumane treatment of animals and has also set down methods in which an animal could be abused or mistreated, such as beating, smacking, overriding or tormenting that unreasonably suffers injuries, or keeping an animal in chains for an inappropriate duration, and all of these actions would lead to punishment.
The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 was enacted for the conservation of plants, birds and animals. The Wildlife Conservation Act is a statutory law meant to protect plants and animals. This Act contains provisions regarding animals and plants safety, fishing, harvesting, and other similar non-essential matters. The act has six schedules that extend across India. Within this Act, different types of punishments are also imposed for breaching the laws provided in it.
Animal experimentation in India
Animal experiments are universally used in developing new medicinal products and testing the safety of several other materials. Most of these tests cause suffering to the animals, or even reduce their life quality. If it is ethically wrong to inflict the torture of animals similarly experimenting on animals causes serious moral issues. Animal testing is not supposed to illustrate that medicines are safe and efficient in humans. Rather they are used to help identify if individuals should be examined for a particular substance. Animal experimentation removes those probable drugs which are either inappropriate or too risky for medical consumption. When a medicine completes the experiment, then before large scale testing, a small group of people are used for experimentation.
Animal testing for cosmetic products has been banned in India through the Drugs and Cosmetic laws (2nd Amendment) 2014. Every person who breaches the Law is liable for a prison term of 3 to 10 years or is subject to a fine that may be Rs.500 to Rs. 10,000, or both.
A panel was set up under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act – The Committee for the Regulation and Supervision of Animal Experiments (CPCSEA) issued the 1998 Breeding and Testing on Animals (Monitoring and Supervision) Regulations (amended 2001 and 2006) restricting animal experiments. The main functions of this committee were to deliberate on permitting the experimentation of animals and suggestion for importing animals for experimentation.
Animal protection is essential throughout the world. They should not be treated in an inhumane manner, torturing them or causing harm to them must be considered unethical and immoral in every country. In India, the laws for animals are not properly structured and regulated. They must be given equal importance as compared to the enforceability of human rights. Strict rules and regulations must be prescribed for experimentation of animals and that should be done for needful purposes only.
Strict punishment must be set for not treating animals properly Also, in India people are not much aware of animal rights and protection, they are taught that it is immoral for ill-treating the animals but, these moral values are not properly inculcated in them. Only a specific NGO cannot work for the welfare of animals, every citizen must come forward for safeguarding animals and forest in our country. Every citizen must be made aware of animal rights and a proper process must be established for the protection of these animals.