What are the animal protection laws in India?

All the rights we have as humans make us strong and help us live a more comfortable and convenient life. But we are not alone on this planet. We coexist with other animals, nature and our atmosphere. So as we have laws for the safety of humans we have laws for animals too. Let’s see how much these animal laws in India help animals sustain and survive. Additionally, there are animal welfare organisations in India that support animal laws and stand up for their justice. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, is the Central Regulation concerning animal protection laws in India. The object of the animal protection Act is to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.

Furthermore, the Wildlife protection act 1972, another Central Act, supports animal rights in India covering wild birds, animals, plants, etc.

Animal Protection Laws in India relating to street animals

  • Killing, maiming, poisoning or rendering useless of any animal is punishable. The punishment could be imprisonment for up to two years or with fine or with both, under section 428 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
  • According to section 429 of the Code, when the cost of the animal is above 50 Rs imprisonment of 5 years is applicable.
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act – Section 11 states that if any person allows for, or beats, kicks or tortures, in any way, any animal subjecting it to unnecessary pain and suffering will be liable to pay a fine of up to 50 Rs. In the case of repetition of the offence under animal protection laws in India, the fine will increase or imprisonment for 3 months will be granted.
  • The Animal Protection (Dogs) Rules, 2001 states rules relating to pets and street dogs.

Animal Protection Laws in India relating to Work Animals/Cattle

Chapter III of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act deals with “Cruelty to animals generally”. According to Section 11, the following acts are punishable. The punishment could be a fine of up to Rs. 25-100 and a maximum of three months of imprisonment on the repetition of the said acts.

  • anybody who employs any unfit animal, suffering from wound, infirmity, sores. Or an animal of old age, to work – Section 11 (b)
  • anybody who carries any animal subjecting it to pain or suffering – Section 11 (d)
  • keeps an animal in a cage or any other such confinement which is not sufficiently big enough to let the animal move freely – Section 11 (e)
  • any owner of an animal who allows his animal, affected with a contagious or infectious disease to die in any street – Section 11 (j)
  • any person offering an animal for sale that is suffering from pain due to mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or ill-treatment – Section 11 (k)
  • In October 2014, non-binding guidelines, the National Code of Practices for Management of Dairy Animals in India was released by the government in consultation with one of the animal protection organisations in India – named ‘World Animal Protection’.

Animal Protection Laws in India relating to Wild Animal Rights

The main laws relating to wildlife in India come under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The Act prohibits the killing, poaching, trapping, poisoning, or harming in any other way, of any wild animal or bird.  It also provides for the establishment of Wildlife Advisory Boards in every State.

  • According to Section 2 (37) of the act, wildlife includes any animal, aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat, thus making the definition a wide and inclusive one.
  • Section 9 of the Act prevents the hunting of any wild animal (animals specified in Schedule 1, 2, 3 and 4) and punishes the offence with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 3 years or with fine which may extend to  25,000/- or with both.
  • The Animal Protection Act allows the Central and State Government to declare any area ‘restricted’ as a wildlife sanctuary, national park, etc. Prohibiting industrial activity in this area.
  • Section 48A of the Animal Protection Act prohibits the transportation of any wild animal, bird or plants. Only a permit of the Chief Wildlife Warden or any other official authorized by the State Government can be used to do so.
  • Section 49 prohibits the purchase without the license of wild animals from dealers.

Laws relating to Aquatic Animals

Additionally, the Wildlife Protection Act is also relevant to aquatic animals. The protection of marine species in India comes under Marine Protected Areas (MPA) under animal protection laws in India.

  • Schedule 1-4 of the Wildlife Protection Act provides a list of all the protected marine species, for e.g seahorse, giant grouper, hermatypic corals, organ pipe, fire coral, sea fans, etc.
  • Schedule III protects all species of sponges and Schedule IV comprises of a wide variety of molluscs.
  • Dolphins have been recognized as the national aquatic animal of India and find themselves placed in Schedule I. India has banned the use of dolphins for commercial entertainment, thereby placing a ban on the establishment of any ‘dolphinarium’ in the country. It strengthens animal rights in India.

Animal Protection Laws in India relating to Birds

Also, birds are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (WLPA) and in Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), along with land and aquatic animals.

  • Section 11 (o) of the PCAA caters to the punishment of any person promoting or himself taking part in any shooting match/competition where animals are released from captivity for shooting.
  • According to Section 16 (c) of the WLPA, it is illegal to injure or destroy wild birds, reptiles, etc., or damage or disturb their eggs or nests. The person who is found guilty of any of this can be punished for up to 7 years in jail and fined up to Rs 25,000.

Zoo Animal Laws and Their Rights in India

The Wildlife Protection Act covers laws relating to Zoo Animals.

Section 38A of the Act provides for the establishment of a Central Zoo Authority by the Central Government, which has the following functions:

  • specifying the minimum standards for keeping of animals inside the zoo.
  • recognize or derecognize zoos.
  • Observe endangered species and assign zoos for their well-being and captive breeding, etc.
  • According to Section 38 H, no Zoo is allowed to function in India without Central Zoo Authority recognition.
  • The CZA provides the guidelines that are necessary for the Establishment & Scientific Management of Zoos in India. Rules like providing enough space to live, healthcare and well being, freedom of movement, a naturalistic environment to the animals, etc.

Laws relating to Pets

Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act has many laws relating to pets. The punishment, in case of violating the animal rights in India, for any of these offences is up to Rs 100, and three months imprisonment in case of repetition of the offence. In case, any person who:

  • Is the owner of an animal, negligently or intentionally chains a dog in close confinement, habitually
  • Fails to provide his animal with sufficient food, drink or shelter – Section 11 (h)
  • Abandons an animal without any reasonable cause, where the animal is bound to suffer pain due to starvation or thirst – Section 11 (i)
  • Is the owner of an animal who knowingly allows an infected, diseased or disabled animal to go into the streets without any permit or leave the animal to die in any street – Section 11 (j)
  • Is intimidating another person and preventing him/her, who is the owner of a pet, from keeping or taking care of his/her pet can be held liable under Section 503 of the IPC.

What are the Laws Relating to Animals used for the purpose of entertainment?

  • Under The Performing Animals Rules, 1973, no animal can be used for the purpose of entertainment except without a proper registration under the Act.
  • Chapter V of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), considers laws relating to performing animals.
  • Section 26 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), directs punishment for any person using any animal for the purposes of entertainment/performance. Fined with up to Rs 500 or with imprisonment of up to three months or with both.

Laws relating to testing or experiment on animals

Millions of animals, especially white mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, monkeys, etc., are experimented globally. Consequently, they suffer and die with great pain in this process. Thus, the use of animals for experimentation in the cosmetic industry amounts to grave cruelty.

  • The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (Second Amendment) 2014, prohibits animal testing for cosmetic products all over India.
  • Any person who violates the Act is liable for punishment for a term which may extend from 3 to 10 years. Or shall be liable to a fine which could be Rs.500 to Rs.10,000 or both.
  • Rule 135B of the Drugs and Cosmetic (Fifth Amendment) Rules 2014 states that no cosmetic, tested on animals, shall be imported into the country.
  • A committee has been established under the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The Committee is formed for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) released the Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules, 1998 (amended in 2001 and 2006) that regulate the experimentation on animals.
  • Similarly, dissecting and experimenting on animals in schools and colleges is banned in India, under the PCCA.

How can you take action to support animal rights in India?

Now that we have a quiver full of laws in our hands to shoot, let us look at how we can use them. How to make a formal complaint against violation of animal rights, and where?

Sending a Legal Notice

You can also send a legal notice to the individual/group of animal abusers yourself through a lawyer. You can also report the matter to animal welfare organisations in India who would do that for you. In the case, the abuser doesn’t act even after sending the notice, you can file an official complaint.

Registering The Wildlife Case

An offence report has different names in different states, such as Preliminary Offence Report (POR), Offence Report, First Information Report (FIR), Seizure Intimation, etc. Called Wildlife Offence Report (WLOR) to make the reports more uniform. The reports are prepared under Section 50(4) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. An individual, animal welfare groups and animal welfare organisations in India can file a report against any crime happening against the protection of animals in India.

Filing a Complaint in Support of the Rights of Animals

To file a ‘complaint’, one needs to approach a magistrate and make an allegation orally or in writing. One can approach a forest officer, who can further file a complaint to the magistrate. According to Section 55 of the WLPA, the following persons can file a complaint to the magistrate:

  1. The Director of Wildlife Preservation or any other officer authorized on his behalf, by the Central Government, Members of Central Zoo Authority or Member – Secretary of Tiger Conservation Authority, Director of the concerned Tiger Reserve.
  2. Chief Wildlife Warden
  3. Any person who has given another person/group notice of at least sixty days, of his intention to make a complaint.

Arrest by an individual

Offences under the Wildlife Protection Act are non-bailable and cognizable offences. Under Section 43 of the CrPC, an individual can arrest an offender who has committed a non-bailable and cognizable offence. Or even someone who is a habitual offender and hand him/her over to the police.

Getting the authorities to actually take action

At times people are passionate about reporting an incident or about animal welfare in general. They may want to take action, but the concerned authorities may not cooperate with them. However, it is demotivating and leads people into thinking that reporting issues related to wildlife or animal welfare as useless. To ensure that authorities actually take action, you must make sure to do the following:

  • Befriend lawyers and journalists. Both of them, sometimes in exchange for money and sometimes pro bono, will help you get your case through.
  • Meet people in NGOs for animal welfare organisations in India. Help the aggrieved animal or reprimand an abuser with the help of established animal welfare organisations in India. Previously, animal welfare organisations in India have fought and won many cases in courts, and are a powerful force altogether.
  • If the authorities are not taking action in urgency, try to call or write to higher authorities, politicians, etc.
  • Gather people. Organize a peaceful protest or demonstration.
  • File a grievance on the website of the Animal Welfare Board of India.

10 Laws that relate to animal rights in India

  1. In the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Section 11 (i) deals with abandoning an animal, leaving it in suffering or pain due to starvation or thirst is a punishable offence. For the first time of such an incident, the fine is up to ₹50. Committing the same crime within three years. The person has to pay a fine of anything between ₹25 and ₹100. Or even face imprisonment of up to 3 months or both. Evidently, neither the fine nor imprisonment is strict enough to prevent people from harming animals.
  2. Killing, poisoning, maiming or torturing an animal is a cognizable offence. It falls under Section 428 and Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code. The punishment includes rigorous imprisonment extending for up to 2 years or a fine or both. The fine is just ₹10 or above, the fine so less that it puts no value on an animal’s life.
  3. Animal Birth Control Rules 2001, prohibits the relocation of sterilized dogs. In the case of the non-sterilized dogs, the society can ask animal welfare organisations in India to sterilize and vaccinate it. But even they cannot relocate the dog from their area.
  4. According to the Animal Birth Control Rules 2001, under Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, dogs can be sterilized only when they have crossed the age of a minimum of 4 months.
  5. Furthermore, chaining, confining or keeping any animal for long hours in heavy chains or chords accounts for cruelty on the animal. It is punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to 3 months or both.

Animals should not need our permission to live on this earth. Animals had the right to be here long before we arrived. – Anthony Douglas Williams, Inside The Divine Pattern

6. In case an owner is unable to provide enough food, drink or shelter. He/she is liable for punishment according to section 11 (1) (h) of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. It is a punishable offence. In such situations also the fine extends to mere ₹50. A subsequent crime committed within three years of the first one is fined with ₹25 – ₹100.

7. Slaughtering animals at places, like temples and streets, not licensed to do so is illegal. Covered under the Local Municipal Corporation Acts. It also falls under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, of Indian Penal Code (IPC).

8. Teasing, molesting, injuring, feeding or causing disturbance to any animal by noise or otherwise is prohibited. It comes under section 38(j) of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Anyone found guilty of this offence may face imprisonment. The punishment could be up to 3 years or a fine of up to Rs 25,000 or both.

9. According to the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Section 16 (c) states any act to injure, destroy wild animals, birds or reptiles, causing harm or disturbing their eggs or nests as illegal. People who violate this law are liable to a jail term of  3 to 7 years along with a fine of  Rs 25,000.

10. According to section 98 of the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978, an animal should be healthy and in good condition during transportation. Any animal that is sick or unfit for transport should not be transported. Furthermore, pregnant and very young animals should be transported separately.


The animal protection laws in India can work only when we are together in the process of animal protection act as the co-habitants. Let’s stand up for their rights and help them exist peacefully. Although there are a lot many animal welfare organisations in India, they need responsible citizens who can stand. To make animal rights in India more safe and animal-friendly.