Animal Rights

According to PETA, “Animal rights means that animals deserve certain kinds of consideration—consideration of what is in their best interests, regardless of whether they are “cute,” useful to humans, or an endangered species and regardless of whether any human cares about them at all. It means recognizing that animals are not ours to use—for food, clothing, entertainment, or experimentation.” [1]

Animals are entitled to their possession and their existence and that they should not be made to suffer and should be provided to the same consideration as a human being. Peter Singer in his book Animal Liberation that the basic principle of equality does not require equal or identical treatment, it requires identical consideration. Animal Rights is the belief that animals are free of human use and exploitation.

Violation of Animal Rights

All beings on the planet whether humans or animals have the right to not be exploited and not be abused. But animals for ages have been abused and used for human benefit. The common form of animal rights violations is Drug Testing, Experiments, Food, Clothing, etc.

Drug Testing: The field of technology is growing fast and so is the speed of testing of products on animals. 94% of the animal testing is done to check the safety of cosmetics and household products. The remaining 6% is done for medical research. Before releasing any product into the market testing is done on animals to check whether it is safe for human use or not. This experimentation harms or kills these animals. In most medicine the scientists use the bone powder of animals.

Killing of animals for Food and Religious Celebration: Animals are abused every time they are killed or hunted and their rights are violated. Every day millions of animals are killed for food and fun all across the world. Animals like chicken, goat, fish, cow, etc are killed regularly. Animals also show feelings and it is scientifically proven that they also have the same feelings as a human. Animals are also killed on days of special occasion like marriage ceremonies or parties. Every religion opposes the killing of animals but on religious occasions people are seen killing animals. 

Use of Animals for Wearable Products: People kill animal and use their skin for wearable accessories and clothing. Of the 31 million animals killed on fur ranches each year, about twenty-six million are mink and 4.5 million are fox. In addition, 250,000 chinchillas, 150,000 sable, 100,000 Fitch, 100,000 raccoon dogs. Hundreds of millions of animals are skinned and tortured to make different types of products. Many other animals are also skinned to make raw products. Crocodiles and snakes are used to make boots, jackets.

Use of Animals for Entertainment: Animals are also abused in the entertainment sector. For many people circus is a great way of entertainment and it is very fun to watch the animals perform various acts but the way these animals are trained is very cruel. These animals are given electric shocks using an electric rod and also their hair is burned. So, when people are enjoying the show, we are laughing at those animals’ miseries. Capturing them and torturing them is a clear violation of their rights and is something to be stopped.

Laws that protect Animals in India

India has one of the most comprehensive set of rules when it comes to protection of animals across the globe. Article 51(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 wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.” Keeping this in mind two Acts have been brought to place to protect the animals namely, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.[2]

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960: The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act was enacted in 1960 to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and to amend the laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals. After the enactment of this Act, the Animal Board of India was formed for the promotion of animal welfare.

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972: The Government of India enacted Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 intending to effectively protect the wild life of this country and to control poaching, smuggling and illegal trade in wildlife and its derivatives. The Act was amended in January 2003 and punishment and penalty for offences under the Act have been made more stringent. It has been proposed to further amend the law by introducing more rigid measures to strengthen the Act. The objective is to protect the listed endangered flora and fauna and ecologically important protected areas.

Besides the two Acts other laws are in place for protection of Animals like:[3]

1. To kill or maim any animal, including stray animals, is a punishable offence. IPC Sections 428 and 429.

2. No animal (including chickens) can be slaughtered in any place other than a slaughterhouse. Sick or pregnant animals shall not be slaughtered. Rule 3, of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (Slaughterhouse) Rules, 2001 and Chapter 4, Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011.

3. Stray dogs that have been operated for birth control cannot be captured or relocated by anybody including any authority. ABC Rules, 2001.

4. Animal sacrifice is illegal in every part of the country. Rule 3, Slaughterhouse Rules, 2001.

5. Cosmetics tested on animals and the import of cosmetics tested on animals is banned. Rules 148-C and 135-B of Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945.

6. Conveying or carrying animals whether in or upon any vehicle, in any manner or position which causes discomfort, pain or suffering is a punishable offence under two Central Acts. Section 11(1)(d) Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, (Transport of Animal) Rules, 2001 and Motor Vehicles Act 1978.

Animal Rights in various Religions

Hinduism: Hinduism believes in the concept of ahimsa and so it is a very important reason why they have respect for animal right because they believe that no living being should be harmed and it does not matter whether it is a human or an animal. Certain animals are also worshipped and given importance like cows, mouse, elephant or even the tiger.

Jainism: Of all the religions no one thinks of the animals like Jainism. They believe in ahimsa and compassion to all the organisms including the tiny microscopic creatures. They believe that all the life on earth are bound together and should work with mutual support and compassion. Jain communities have also set up a many animal hospital to take care of the abandoned and injured animals.

Buddhism: Buddhism, like Hinduism and Jainism believe in ahimsa and so do not believe in doing any harm or violent act towards any living being. They show love and compassion to all animals and their doctrine of right livelihood teaches them to avoid all the works related to killing of animals. They treat the life of humans and non-humans as equal. They also believe that even the animals have the ability to become enlightened.

Islam: Animal rights were recognized early by the Sharia (Islamic law). This recognition is based on both the Qur’an and the Hadith. In the Qur’an, there are many references to animals, detailing that they have souls, form communities, communicate with God and worship Him in their way. Muhammad forbade his followers to harm any animal and asked them to respect the rights of animals.[121] It is a distinctive characteristic of the Shariah that all animals have legal rights.

 

Landmark Judgments on Animal Rights

1. People for Ethical Treatment of Animals Vs. Union of India[4]:

Bombay High Court in 2006 ruled that any film which is meant for public viewing and that uses animals in its filming has to get the certificate from the Animal Welfare Board of India. It was done to safeguard the animal from exploitation or from being ill treated during the making of the film like being exposed to loud and strange noise or not being provided with food and water.

2. State of U.P Vs. Mustakeem and Ors:

In the state of Uttar Pradesh, there was a case where goats were found to be transported in a cruel manner to be slaughtered, FIR was filed against the owner, the Uttar Pradesh High Court returned the custody of the animals to the owner while the matter was in court. On appeal the Supreme Court that in such case the animal needs to be confiscated and given to gaushalas under the states control.

3. Nair, N.R. and Ors. Vs. Union of India and Ors[5]:

The Kerala High Court upheld the notification passed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests stating that animals like bears, tigers, lions, panthers and monkeys cannot be exhibited or trained as performing animals. The Supreme Court declared that animals suffer cruelty when they are abused and put in cages. It also dismissed the petitioners’ right to carry out any profession as the act caused pain and suffering to the animals.

Conclusion

In the article, we understood what animal rights are and why animals should have the same rights as a human being. We must take care of these creatures as they also deserve to live a life without any kind of exploitation or harm. There are many ways in which animals are exploited and it is our duty to protect them. Even our religions talk about protecting animals and even the governments of various countries have acted in their ways to protect the animals by setting up laws and even the various court judgments have favoured the animals from being exploited or harmed by humans to fulfil our needs.


[1] https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/what-do-you-mean-by-animal-rights/

[2] https://www.strawindia.org/laws-that-protect-animals-in-india.aspx

[3] https://www.thebetterindia.com/46721/humane-society-india-animal-laws-prevention-of-cruelty-act/

[4] W.P(C) No. 23480/2005

[5] AIR 2000 Ker 340

Aman Jain from Symbiosis Law School, Noida

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