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@AT Official : Standing up against animal cruelty - Legal support

What to do if you see animal cruelty?

Immediately call 100

Don’t waste a single second in this. The police are meant to uphold the law and animal cruelty is punishable under 2 central Acts - the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) 1960 and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) 1860. The police is duty bound to act when they see its violation.

The most relevant sections of the PCA are section 11 and 22 and for IPC – section 428 and 429:

  • Section 11 of the PCA - 11(1)(L) – punishes killing on injuring an animal with fine or imprisonment.

  • Section 428 and 429 of the IPC - under which, ‘mischief of killing or maiming an animal amounts to an offence’ and the offender can be imprisoned for upto five years or a fine or both.

How to deal with the police

  • Now it is compulsory for them to register an FIR as per the Lalita Kumari vs Govt.Of U.P judgment of Supreme Court in 2013. So insist on this and get a FIR registered and once the FIR is registered the police must investigate it and send a report to the local magistrate.

  • Also the sections mentioned above are “cognizable” meaning that the police can make an arrest without a warrant and to start an investigation without the permission of the court. Also the police must report all such cognizable offences to the local magistrate, so they can’t take it lightly.

  • Furthermore, mention that you are fulfilling your duty under 51A(g) of the constitution (compassion to animals) and mention all the relevant sections of the PCA and IPC to make your complaint strong.

  • Bring in the human element – mention sections like criminal intimidation, outraging modesty of women, rash and negligent driving, if the case permits. This will make the case even more serious and the police will be forced to act upon it. For your quick reference, the relevant sections of the IPC are:

Section 289 - Negligent conduct with respect to animal

Section 279 - Rash driving or riding on a public way

Section 268 - Public nuisance

Section 503/506 - Criminal Intimidation

Section 504 - Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace,

Section 505 - Statements conducting to public mischief

Section 509 – Words, gesture or act for outraging the modesty of women.

(Note – if the case permits you can ask the police to apply all of the above sections in the FIR and you need not pick and choose and the police can’t ask you reduce any of them)

  • Tell the policemen that animal cruelty is nothing but a trailer to a bigger crime against a human. It is proven that most animal abuser escalate and commit crimes against women and children. So Dear Respected Police, please intervene now because later on if some major crime happens, then the media will be after you – asking that why didn’t you act earlier. A slightly different example – the Nirbhaya convicts were reported for robbery by some person just before theDecember 16 incident and the police told the complainant to go away and not bother them for such a small case.

Brief idea about lodging an FIR

Please note that almost anyone can lodge an FIR. For example – the victim of the incident, a witness of the incident and also anyone who was just told about the incident – ALL call file an FIR. Furthermore, please file the FIR as soon as possible, as any delay has to be explained in court, which can make the job tougher. And finally, an FIR should be lodged in the local police station and must contain the date and time of the incident and the identity of the accused (if known) in a precise manner. After it is registered, the complainant is entitled to a copy free of charge. The Crime Number in the FIR is the reference for all future follow-ups.

Some examples of cruelty that are blatantly illegal:

  • Hitting any stray dog or cow etc with sticks and stones

  • Killing of stray dogs by RWAs by poisoning them

  • Culling of stray dogs or impounding them or rounding up them up and abandoning them outside city limits them by Municipal authorities.

  • Using of Langurs to scare away monkey – this is cruelty against the monkeys and also the Langurs.

The law about stray dogs population

As per SC judgments it is illegal to kill them and the only thing that can be done is to get them caught by municipal bodies then get them neutered and then dropped off at the same place where they were picked up. This comes under the ABC (Animal Birth Control) Programme and is approved by WHO as a very effective tool in controlling stray dog population, reducing dog bites and rabies cases. Additional benefits of neutering include dogs not running after anyone, not barking at night and a drastic reduction in any man-dog conflict. (Contact us or NGO’s like Friendicoes, Noida SPCA etc for neutering in your area)

Practical tips:

  1. Don’t forget to give the poor animal some medical attention – in the midst of calling the police etc many people forget this part. The animal might be injured so be sure to give first aid ASAP. Also start taking evidence of the incident and the treatment – details in the next point.

  2. Immediately start recording evidence – this stage is crucial for the court to proceed on and please note that the best evidence is video. It would be damning evidence if you take a video of the abuser in action. Just quickly take out your phone and start recording. If nothing else then immediately start taking pictures. Furthermore, call more people around to see the incident so that later on you have witnesses. If the abuser starts to threaten you then take video/pictures/audio of that also. An example of this would be a car hitting a stray dog – in this case quickly take pictures of the driver, the car, the number plate, the people around you and most importantly the injured animal. Also when you take the animal to the hospital or any vet for first aid, take detailed pictures of the injury. Ask the Vet to give you detailed note under his/her sign and letter pad that the animal had so and so injury and that xyz is the treatment. Make sure that the vet mentions each injury in detail and doesn’t just write that injured dog brought and now treatment done. Don’t forget to take the vet’s note with detailed analysis of the injuries to the animal. Again this is crucial as without this the court cannot proceed. Also the video and picture you take on your phone automatically prove the date and time. This is because the “Metadata” contains all such details and that can’t be erased and becomes crucial evidence at trial stage.

  3. Again, bring in the human element – if the case permits use sections like nuisance (section 268 IPC) or criminal intimidation (section 503 IPC) or rash and negligent driving (section 279 IPC) or even outraging the modesty of a women (509). By mentioning sections like these the Police will surely have to act.

  4. Approach the abuser in groups - as then carrying out the threat is not feasible for the person. Always go in group.

  5. If the abuser is a government servant or works in an MNC – then threaten to get on the employment record of the person. For example there was a Home ministry government official who would mistreat his Labrador by keeping the poor dog on the terrace all the time with barely any food or water. On finding this out some activists, through a lawyer, sent him legal notice that if he doesn’t surrender the dog, then a formal police complaint will be lodged and a copy will be sent to his ministry and the ministry will put this complaint on his permanent record. This would affect his promotion, retirement benefits, passport renewal etc. As expected, he got very scared and surrendered the dog to a local NGO. In this case there was no need to even approach the police or the courts and the matter was resolved. Point is that in India the threat of the law works better than the law itself..

  6. Involve the media - there are many reporters now, who extensively cover cases of animal cruelty. This is because they understand that such that such abusers soon escalate to women and children. Also educated dog feeding people are regular subscribers. Call or email or tweet to editors and reporters of newspapers like TOI, Indian express, The Hindu etc.

  7. The ultimate aim– even if the abuser does not get convicted from the court, still he/she will certainly get afraid and deterred from repeating such behaviour in the future. At minimum, the abuser will have to engage a lawyer to defend himself and maybe pay off the police and have an ongoing investigation against their name and have troubles filling up government forms like passport etc. All of this takes a huge financial and mental toll on such abusers, thereby creating deterrence. And the rule of law also increases – not just for the protection of humans but also the voiceless animals. After all, this is not matter of animal rights but a matter of human responsibility.

(We do not take credit for any of the legal advice mentioned above. We just compiled the law after talking to many excellent lawyers, whose brilliance in the profession is exceeded only by their generosity and compassion. However, any errors, are ours and our alone. For free legal advice if you come across animal cruelty case, please email us at and we will try help you to the best of our abilities.)

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