Voices for the Voiceless: Advocating for Animal Rights

Voices for the Voiceless: Advocating for Animal Rights

Author: Chandini Prajapati from City Groups of Colleges, Lucknow


Mahatma Gandhi wisely stated that a nation’s greatness and moral progress can be gauged by its treatment of animals. While humans often perceive themselves as superior, it is crucial to recognize that animals deserve protection and consideration. Although India’s constitutional provisions exist to safeguard animal rights, their implementation and effectiveness remain subjects of scrutiny. Initiating conversations about this critical and humane topic is essential, as it gives a voice to the voiceless who play a vital role in maintaining our ecosystem.

As Homo sapiens, we hold the highest rank in the animal kingdom. Our era of development has seen remarkable progress across various fields, yet we must pause and reflect: What has been the cost of our achievements? Is it truly an accomplishment if we’ve sacrificed basic moral values along the way? Have our advancements severed our connection with nature? These questions highlight the gaps in our society that hinder overall growth and demand our attention.

In today’s context, one often overlooked topic is the distinction between “Animal Rights” and “Animal Welfare.” Are these two concepts synonymous?

The distinction between animal welfare and animal rights:

Animal Welfare:

Definition: Animal welfare refers to the well-being and treatment of animals within human-controlled environments. It aims to ensure that animals experience minimal suffering and are provided with adequate care.

Focus: The primary focus of animal welfare is on practical measures to enhance the lives of animals. It seeks to address their physical needs, such as food, shelter, and protection from harm.


Providing clean and spacious enclosures for zoo animals.

Implementing regulations for humane slaughter in the meat industry.

Ensuring proper veterinary care for pets and livestock.

Ethical Basis: While animal welfare recognizes that animals can suffer, it does not necessarily grant them inherent rights. Instead, it emphasizes responsible stewardship and compassionate treatment.

Animal Rights:

Definition: Animal rights extend beyond welfare. They assert that animals have intrinsic value and deserve moral consideration, similar to human beings. Animal rights advocates argue that animals possess certain inherent rights.

Focus: The central focus of animal rights is on the ethical and philosophical aspects of our relationship with animals. It questions the use of animals for human purposes and challenges practices that exploit them.


Granting legal personhood to highly intelligent animals (e.g., chimpanzees) to protect their autonomy.

Advocating for the abolition of practices like factory farming, animal testing, and circuses.

Recognizing animals’ right to live free from unnecessary suffering.

Ethical Basis: Animal rights are grounded in the belief that animals are not mere commodities but sentient beings with inherent worth. They should not be treated as mere resources for human benefit.

Key Differences:

Scope: Animal welfare focuses on practical improvements within existing systems, while animal rights challenge the fundamental status quo.

Moral Consideration: Welfare considers the practical consequences of our actions, whereas rights emphasize the inherent dignity of animals.

Legal Implications: Welfare laws regulate treatment, while animal rights seek legal recognition of animals’ intrinsic rights.

Debate: The debate between welfare and rights often centers on whether animals deserve more than just humane treatment—they deserve respect and consideration as fellow beings

Bestiality: A Grave Offense

Among the various forms of cruelty inflicted upon animals, the abhorrent act of bestiality is on the rise. Under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, engaging in carnal intercourse against the natural order with any man, woman, or animal is punishable by imprisonment for life or a term of up to ten years, along with a fine.

While the Supreme Court’s landmark verdict decriminalized homosexuality, it is essential to recognize that Section 377 also addresses bestiality. This provision remains in force to combat unnatural sexual offenses involving animals. Unfortunately, many people, including law enforcement, remain unaware or uninformed about this aspect.

Instances of bestiality have occurred over the years, revealing the severity of the issue. For instance, in August 2017, a man in Delhi was accused of raping a female puppy to death. Not only did he boast about the gruesome act to an animal lover, but he also led them to the lifeless body. Similarly, in July 2018, eight men allegedly gang-raped a pregnant goat in Haryana after stealing and brutalizing it.

These incidents underscore the urgent need for awareness, education, and stringent enforcement to protect animals from such heinous crimes.

From the very outset, there exists a lack of urgency in filing First Information Reports (FIRs) related to animal cruelty. Even when an FIR is lodged, the question arises: which section of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) should apply? While the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, of 1960, addresses the recognition of cruelty toward animals—encompassing acts like maiming, injuring, killing, practicing phooka (inhaling smoke), conducting experiments on animals, and regulating the exhibition and training of performing animals—there remains a gap.

Under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, the penalty is a mere Rs 50 fine or imprisonment of up to three months or both. However, Section 377 of the IPC solely criminalizes penetrative sexual intercourse with an animal, failing to address the extreme cruelty inflicted upon these voiceless beings. Advocates for animal rights have urged the government to amend the existing legislation, introducing more robust penalties for cruelty to animals and recognizing bestiality as a cognizable offense.

Regrettably, the government has maintained silence on this matter. Given the current scenario, perhaps we should direct our attention toward restraining humans rather than animals. If individuals cannot control their urges to commit acts of rape and immorality, it is essential to safeguard the rights of animals who cannot vocalize their suffering. Let us collectively fight for their protection and shield them from cruelty.

Animal Protection Rights and Laws in India: A Closer Look

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960:

Section 11 of this Act addresses various forms of cruelty towards animals. Here are some key points:

Treating animals cruelly: This includes actions such as beating, kicking, overloading, torturing, or administering injurious substances to animals, causing unnecessary pain or suffering.

Employment of unfit animals: It is prohibited to use animals for work or labor if they are unfit due to age, disease, or other reasons.

Neglect and abandonment: Owners must provide sufficient food, drink, shelter, and exercise for their animals. Abandoning animals in a way that leads to starvation or thirst is also punishable.

Mutilation and killing: Mutilating animals or causing their death in cruel ways (such as using strychnine injections) is strictly forbidden.

Animal fighting and baiting: Organizing or participating in animal fights or baiting is illegal.

Violation of these provisions can result in fines ranging from ten to fifty rupees 12.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972:

The Wildlife Protection Act aims to safeguard wildlife, control poaching, and regulate trade in wildlife and its derivatives.

Key provisions include:

Scheduled protected plant and animal species: The Act prohibits hunting certain animal species or harvesting them without authorization.

Transportation and trade: No wild animal or bird can be transported without permission. Purchasing wild animals from dealers without a license is also forbidden.

Central Zoo Authority: The Act establishes the Central Zoo Authority, which sets standards for zoo management, recognizes zoos, and assigns responsibilities for captive breeding of endangered species.

Protection of wild birds and reptiles: The Act penalizes injuring or destroying wild birds, and reptiles, or disturbing their eggs or nests.

Recent amendments have made penalties more stringent 34.

Animal Testing in the Cosmetic Industry:

The Drugs and Cosmetics Rules (Second Amendment) 2014 banned animal testing for cosmetic products across India.

Anyone violating this rule may face imprisonment for 3 to 10 years or a fine ranging from Rs. 500 to Rs. 10,000, or both.

Rule 135B of the Drugs and Cosmetic (Fifth Amendment) Rules 2014 prohibits importing cosmetics tested on animals 5.

Promoting Animal Welfare: Steps to Enhance Protection

Education and Awareness: Educating children about compassion towards animals from an early age is crucial. Adults should also actively engage in promoting empathy and involvement in animal welfare. Displaying banners and posters in prominent areas can raise awareness.

Animal Care Programs: Owners of animals should participate in programs that educate them about basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, and proper veterinary care.

Taking Cruelty Reports Seriously: A specialized police force dedicated to animal protection should actively combat crimes against animals. Stray animals should find safety in government shelters, registered organizations, and NGOs.

Combatting Unsafe Pet Shelters: Regular raids are necessary to identify and address suspicious individuals posing as shelter providers. These hoarders often neglect animals’ physical and social needs.

Promoting Cruelty-Free Practices:

People should buy and promote cruelty-free products.

Donating to charities that care for animals is essential.

Avoiding animal testing and funding non-animal research.

Stepping away from entertainment events that exploit animals, including promoting animal-free circuses.

Forming more animal rights organizations.

Banning animal festivals and competitive games that harm animals, such as the Qila Raipur games in Punjab.

Establishing district-level shelter homes to cater to the needs of injured and disabled animals.


Animal rights is a philosophy that acknowledges the intrinsic value of sentient creatures, irrespective of their utility to humans. It asserts that animals’ fundamental interests—such as avoiding suffering—should be treated with the same consideration as similar interests of human beings. This perspective challenges speciesism, which assigns moral worth based solely on species membership, akin to any other prejudice. Across various cultural traditions, including Jainism, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shinto, and Animism, forms of animal rights are embraced. Legal scholars advocate for extending basic legal rights and personhood to non-human animals, transcending the species barrier. In essence, animal rights emphasize autonomy—the ability to live as animals wish—free from human desires and exploitation. It is not about elevating animals above humans but recognizing their intrinsic worth and ensuring their well-being

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *