Broadening the Scope of Liabilities for Cruelty against Animals: Gauging the Legal Adequacy of Penal Sanctions Imposed
Abha Nadkarni & Adrija Ghosh*
Volume 10 Issue 3 (2017)
Recently, several incidents pertaining to cruelty being inflicted on animals have come to light, questioning whether an amendment to the present Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is indispensable. The Act, which was framed several decades prior, envisages a sentencing policy and penalties that were probably adequate during that period, but need to be re-examined now in terms of the adequacy and nature of liability imposed. This requires looking into whether the criminal penalty and the provisions for receiving bail as provided under §11 of the Act are sufficient in present times, in light of lack of proportionality between the offence and the punishment meted out. Further, we note that the imposition of criminal liability altogether may not be completely adequate, and thus civil liability needs to be considered. We suggest the imposition of civil liability along with criminal liability for offences against animals. Civil liability would grant the State the status of ‘guardians’ or ‘trustee’ of animals and the power to sue the offenders to receive remedies. Hence, a solution is suggested in the form of statutory amendments and better implementation mechanisms. We also enumerate hypothetical applications of these solutions with respect to the imposition of liability. to determine their potency. The paper shall conclude on the note that an amendment to the current sentencing provisions and penalties of the Act is imperative, along with imposition of civil liability, to prevent rampant occurrences of animal cruelty in the future.