Animal Law

The law, when effectively harnessed, can be come the most potent weapon in the fight against animal abuse and exploitation. When interpreted with courage and compassion, it can extend the maximum protection to living beings that cannot speak or fight for themselves.

Despite the fact that cruelty towards any living creature is unacceptable, we receive reports of deliberate pain and suffering inflicted on animals every day. Some important pointers for common cases are below:

  1. There is no law against feeding needy animals. Any citizen irrespective of where they reside may, from their own resources, feed any animal.
  2. The Court has held that feeding needy animals is a social service. Harassment and threatening to those who feed and care for them is a violation of the laws.
  3. The Bombay High Court has in 2007 had suggested that every society to adopt strays and take care of them.
  4. Persons who are trying to interfere and object to feeding strays and hence display aggression can be held liable for having committed offenses described in the Indian Penal Code and criminal intimidation as it is also against article 51 A (g) of the Indian Constitution.
  5. Hitting or hurting any animal is illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.
  6. Killing or injuring any animal is a cognizable offence under Section 428 and 429 Indian Penal Code.
  7. Threatening or abusing for feeding animals is tantamount to criminal intimidation under Section 504 of the Indian Penal Code.

CUPA aims to make Animal Welfare Law familiar and accessible so that more and more individuals are able to ensure ethical treatment of animals. Below is a compilation of of laws that apply to domestic, wild, experimental and pet animals. We hope to empower all citizens and use the strength of the law to protect animals that are found to be victims of human greed and cruelty.


The Laws – Domestic Animals : 

Laws invoked in cases of animal cruelty are –

(1) Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.

(2) Indian Penal Code (Relevant Sections).

(3) Criminal Procedure Code (Relevant Sections).

⇒ The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960

  • Also referred to as the PCA
  • Considers all incidents of animal cruelty a criminal offence
  • Used to clearly define the violation
  • Provides for fines and imprisonment
  • In 2001 issued the Performing Animals (Registration) Act 2001, whereby no animals could be displayed, exhibited or used for performance without mandatory clearances. This addition specifically introduced to monitor the use of animals in the 250-300 circuses/ travelling zoos in the country. In the year 2012 only 24 circus companies were registered with the Central Zoo Authority (CZA)

⇒ The Animal Birth Control Rules, 2001.

  • Also referred to as ABC Rules
  • Provide for sterilization and vaccination as a means of stabilizing/reducing stray dog populations and eliminating the risk of rabies (Section 3)
  • Provides guidelines for the carrying out of local Animal Birth Control programs (Section 7)
  • Prohibits relocation of stray dogs (Section 7)
  • Provides guidelines for dog breeding which must be adhered to by breeders (Section 12)

⇒ Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001.

  • Clearly defines the conditions under which an animal can or cannot be slaughtered
  • Mandates that animals cannot be slaughtered except in recognized or licensed slaughterhouses (Section 3)
  • This includes provisions of resting grounds, compulsory veterinary inspections, slaughter in isolation (out of view of other animals), specifications for the slaughter house building such as floors, windows, drainage and ventilation, valid licensing of employees and impromptu inspections carried out by the Animal Welfare Board of India (Section 4 – 9)

⇒ The Prevention of Cruelty to Draught and Pack Animals Rules, 1965.

  • For large working animals such as buffalo, horse, mule pony and camel
  • Classifies these animals into ‘large’, ‘medium’ and ‘small’ and prescribes maximum loads that can be carried respectively (Section 2)
  • Allows persons authorized by the Government or the Animal Welfare Board of India to take charge of an animal in case of suspected offence (Section 11)

⇒ The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Transport of Animals on Foot) Rules, 2011.

  • Applies to transport of animals on foot when distance from point of origin to last destination is 5 km or more than 5 km (Section 3)
  • Mandates that animals transported on foot shall be healthy and in fit condition for such transport (Section 4)
  • Prohibits the use of a whip, etc during transportation of animals (Section 11)
  • Prohibition on transport of animals on foot before sunrise and after sunset (Section 12)
  • Provision of distance, time, rest, intervals and temperature to be provided
  • Allows persons authorized by the Government or the Animal Welfare Board of India to take charge of an animal in case of suspected offence

⇒ The Motor Vehicles Act – Notification to regulate animal transport.

  • Makes OIE standards of cattle transport mandatory
  • Mandates that each transporter obtain a special registration for each animal carrier after having fitted individual permanent partitions in the vehicle to prevent overloading.
  • Animal carriers disallowed from carrying any other goods

⇒ The Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972

  • An Act of the Parliament of India enacted for protection of wild animals, birds and plants
  • Among other reforms, the Act established schedules of protected plant and animal species; hunting or harvesting these species was largely outlawed
  • Categorizes native Indian wildlife into 5 schedules which mandate varying degrees of protection
  • An amendment to the Act on April 1st, 2003 expanded the scope of definition of zoo, to include circuses, stipulating that no circuses could be established without the prior approval of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA)


Circulars/Orders issued by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).

⇒ AWBI circular on pet dogs and street dogs in and around residential complexes

⇒ AWBI – All circulars

⇒ AWBI guide to Animal Welfare Laws – a training module for the police and law enforcement agencies

Other Orders, Circulars and FAQs

⇒ Consumer Court Order w.r.t Dogs in lifts dated 25.11.2008

⇒ Govt. of India issued Office Memorandum w.r.t Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

⇒ Order to Police Stations in Delhi to duly record FIRs for PCA violations

⇒ Dealing with stray dogs – Do’s and Dont’s – issued by PfA in Public Interest

Issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India

⇒ Order dated 18.11.2015 w.r.t stray dogs