New Delhi. The Supreme Court has refused to entertain a plea by former Indian cricket team captain Kapil Dev challenging the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The petition was filed by Kapil Dev along with two other activists after the shocking incident of torturing and killing a stray pregnant dog in Delhi in November 2022. The petition highlighted several alleged cases of animal cruelty across the country and argued that the laws regarding this are inadequate. The petitioners had also sought guidelines for ensuring dignified treatment of animals and for effective prosecution of animal cruelty complaints. The petitioners also argued that the punishments prescribed for animal cruelty are inadequate and therefore challenged the constitutionality of Section 11(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code.
Senior Advocate Aman Lekhi, appearing for the petitioner, told the court that as per Section 428 of IPC, the offense of killing or maiming an animal is punishable with imprisonment of Rs 10, which may extend to two years. However, as per section 429 of the IPC, the same offense is punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years with a fine of Rs 50. However, the counsel argued in the court that fixing different punishments for the same offense of animal cruelty on the basis of commercial and utility value of the animal is completely unfair and arbitrary.
‘Animals also have the right to avoid suffering’
The counsel in the court also referred to an old order of the court where it was said: “Animals also have a right not to be tortured and caused unnecessary pain or suffering like human beings. The punishment for the violation of those rights is insignificant, because these laws are made by humans. The punishment prescribed in section 11(1) is not commensurate with the gravity of the offence, therefore the right to impunity is being violated defeating the very object and purpose of the Act.
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challenge to the law
The lawyer argued in the court that Section 11(3) (b) and (c) of the Act provides for the destruction of stray dogs by such other means and to drive away or destroy any animal. He further referred to Section 9(f) of the PCA 1960 that the Animal Welfare Board “shall take all steps to ensure that unwanted animals are destroyed by the local authorities”. In doing so, the Act itself makes an unfair classification between utilitarian and unwanted animals and the value they give to their lives. The petitioner argued that Section 11(3) of the PCA, 1960 makes exceptions for animal husbandry procedures such as de-horning, castration, nose-roping and branding of animals. However, no guidelines have been laid down through rules or regulations to carry out these procedures without traumatizing the animals.
Why did the petitioner come directly to the Supreme Court
When the Court asked why the petitioner chose to directly approach the Supreme Court, the counsel replied that the reliefs sought were related to the implementation of the Act across the country and were not limited to the jurisdiction of any particular High Court. He further said that this issue is related to the misuse of the Central Act, which has consequences all over India. He said that in the application of the law, animals have been limited to instrumental value only. Citing examples, the counsel argued that the courts have intervened to fill the gap where the law is inadequate and the legislature is dragging its feet.
Despite the arguments of the counsel, the Supreme Court said that it has reservations in considering the matter as the High Courts are equally competent to grant relief. After some arguments in the matter, the petitioner sought withdrawal of the petition filed in the Supreme Court, after which he could file an application in the High Court. The court dismissed the petition after hearing the arguments of all the parties.
Tags: Animal Cruelty, kapil dev, supreme court
FIRST PUBLISHED : July 25, 2023, 12:47 IST