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Rules & Laws For Transportation of Animals in India: Brief Analysis

INTRODUCTION

“If you really care about animals, then stop trying to figure out how to exploit them 'compassionately'. Just stop exploiting them.” 
― Gary L Francione

In today’s world, which is very competitive, hardly any heed is paid to basic morals and character.In a rat-race to earn instant and easy money, animals have sadly become a repetitive target. Because animals are mute spectators and are incapable of raising their voice against these cruelties, they are constantly subjected to brutality.

While transporting animals, the top most priority shall be the animal’s wellbeing and health. This varies from species to species and should essentially be thought of prior to movement. The mode of transport shall be duly identified and a reconnaissance shall be done well in advance and preparations accordingly made. It is mandatory for the Driver or the team undertaking the transportation to familiarise themselves with the route that will be taken while transporting the animals. Stops in between should be pre-planned and identified well in advance to minimize the time of transport. The cages, if any, should be kept in the vehicle in such a way that animal always faces the direction in which the vehicle is moving.[1]

CONSTITUTIONAL STATUS GIVEN TO ANIMALS

The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraj,[2] has propounded that Article 21 of the Constitution, while safeguarding the rights of humans, protects life and the word “life” has been given an expanded definition and any disturbance from the basic environment which includes all forms of life, including animal life, which are necessary for human life, fall within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution. The state is obliged under Article 21 read with Article 51A(g) and Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960[3] to ensure that all animals are treated with compassion and dignity and are not meted out with unspeakable cruelty.

It is also equally important to note here that the Directive Principles of State Policy under Article 48A[4] enjoins the State to take steps to protect the wildlife of the country and that wildlife doesn’t only mean the animals in the forests but animals all over the country.

Apart from this, there are more than 2900 non-government organizations are working in the field of Animal Welfare in India. Most of these organisations receive public funding through institutions like the Animal Welfare Board of India. In the case of Narayan Dutt Bhatt v. Union of India[5], Uttarakhand High Court upheld that “In order to protect and promote greater welfare of animals including avian and aquatic, animals are required to be conferred with the status of legal entity/ legal person”.

ILLEGAL TRANSPORTATION OF ANIMALS

Recently, in the year 2018, Divisional Railway Manager’s office in Tinsukia, Assam were trying to arrange transportation for four elephants to Ahmedabad. The Assam Forest Department, granted permission to transport the four animals to Ahmedabad, ignoring the heat in North India. As per Section 43(1) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972[6], no person having in his control or possession a captive animal in respect of which he has a certificate of ownership, shall transfer such captive animal by any mode of consideration of commercial nature. The wildlife activists were awfully worried about transporting elephants because in the past, several elephants from Arunachal Pradesh and Assam were leased to temples in Kerala, Gujarat and other states. Unfortunately, none of the elephants returned to the original owners.

The cattle, on the other hand are loaded so densely in trucks that their movement is barely possible. The Animal Welfare Board of India, with multiple others animal welfare organisations have been gathering evidence of widespread abuse of buffaloes, cattle, goats and sheep used for their meat and leather throughout the country. These organisations concluded that there have been high levels of overcrowding leading to grave injuries and fatalities being caused to animals. This happens when animals are gouged by horns or crushed. Even though there are directives from the state government and also public assurances made by government officials over several years, the evidence collected by these organisations clearly show that there has been no to little improvement in the treatment of animals during transport.

Recent estimates show that 1.5 million cattle are brought into states like Kerala every year and 0.6 million of these pass-through government check-points officially. The remaining are smuggled in by other transport routes from Tamil Nadu. These illegally transported animals do not have valid health certificates that indicate that they are free of contagious disease and fit to be transported. Irrespective of the fact that there are number of checkpoints in the forested areas of this route to prevent poaching, vehicles are known to pass through without being checked, by paying bribes to the person working at those checkpoints.

Animals, especially dairy animals, are transported between railway stations in wagons, designed to hold a maximum of 10 horned cattle or 15 calves or 8 cattle with calves in gauge trains. The station master ought to obtain a declaration from the owner that the animals are not meant for slaughter. There are other strict rules to which the consignor must adhere regarding loading and poisoning of animals within the wagon and their feed and water provision.

Other ways by which animals are transported even through bicycles, ferries and carts. In states that have rivers to be crossed for transporting animals, ferries are to be used. These boats are often too small. Of all animals transported for slaughter, poultry present some of the most concerning welfare problems. Birds are always transported caged, under harsh environmental conditions. Due to cramped conditions in the metal cages, birds have bruises especially in the breast region of their bodies. Birds are sometimes transported on bicycles and scooters with their legs tied and their bodies hung upside down from the handlebars, with up to 60 other birds.

SAFEGUARDS LAID DOWNBY INDIAN LEGISLATIONS

Even though the Central Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2016[7] was passed and itlayed down stricter rules for the transportation of animals, on ground level, it has not been effectively implemented. Vehicles carrying animals are mandated to have permanent partitions to enable the transportation of animals individually in each partition as per the Act. The amendment further specifies that the size of partitions should not be less than 2 sq. m for cows and buffaloes, 2.25 sq. m for horses and mares, 0.3 sq. m for sheep and goats, 0.6 sq. m for pigs and 40 sq. cm for poultry. However, transporters are flouting rules by overloading their vehicles with animals causing the possibility of them sustaining injuries and transmission of disease.The amendment lacksmechanisms to monitor vehicles that do not adhere to rules. Thus, the amendment is restricted just to paper because of its poor implementation. 

Closely linked to slaughter is the issue of large-scale transport of cattle to states (principally West Bengal,Kerala and the north eastern states) and abroad (Bangladesh) where there is a demand for cow meat. Thereare 2 sets of rules framed under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act that regulate transport of animalsin India.

According to the Transport of Animals Rules, 1978[8], cattle transported by rail or road must beaccompanied by a veterinary certificate that they are fit to travel, and by first-aid equipment. Average space per animal should not be less than 2 square metres, and ropes and platforms should be usedfor loading. They should be properly fed and given water first.

Other provisions of the Transport ofAnimal Rules are:

  1. Water and food should be made available for the whole journey.
  2. When cattle are transported by rail, there is a maximum number allowed in each wagon,
  3. and each wagon should have at least one attendant. There should be padding on the floorand adequate ventilation.
  4. When cattle are transported by road, specially fitted goods vehicles should be used, or
  5. ordinary vehicles should be provided with anti-slipping material, and there should be anattendant. No more than six cattle can be carried in one vehicle.

Transport of Animals (Amendment) Rules, 2001[9] state that a valid certificate issued by an officeror any person or Animal Welfare Organisation authorised by the AWBI or Central Governmentneeds to be obtained before transporting an animal to ensure that all relevant requirements havebeen met. If these conditions are not met, any permit will be cancelled and the police must stopfurther transport. The animals will be given to the authorised Animal Welfare Organisation ifavailable until further decisions are made by the authorities.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Transport of Animals on Foot) Rules, 2001[10] apply to transportof animals on foot when the distance from the boundary of village or town or city of the origin of suchtransport to the last destination is 5 km or more than 5 km. The rules state that every animal must behealthy and in good condition, and a veterinary certificate is needed for each animal. Veterinary firstaid equipment must also be provided for the journey. New born animals, diseased, blind, emaciated,lame, fatigued animals, and animals who have given birth during the preceding seventy-two hours orlikely to give birth during transport should not be transported on foot.

Arrangements should be made for watering and feeding the animals during transport.Nobody is allowed to use whips, sticks, etc. or apply any substance on their bodies to makethe animals walk faster. If an animal has to be tied, a cushioned rope should be used. If twoanimals are tied together (more than two animals cannot be tied together) the spacebetween them should be at least two feet. Furthermore, Animals cannot be transported before sunrise or after sunset. Limits have also been set fortransport on foot.Animals should not be made to walk in adverse weather conditions such as heavy rain,thunderstorms, and extremely dry or sultry conditions.

Lastly, According to Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals Act, 1960[11] transporting of any animal in any manner that will cause him/her needless sufferings is prohibited. This includes loading of cows into trucks without ramps, forcing animals to travel long distances on feet, overcrowding animals in a vehicle as well as tying pigs around a scooter or a cycle. It is an activity punishable with a fine of Rs.100 and/or up to three months in jail.

CONCLUSION

The amount of compensation/fine imposed on any offender under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1956 is peanuts and this needs to be addressed urgently. The present rates of fine that merely ranges between Rs 10 and 50 does not as a deterrence.

Both cognizable or non-cognizable offences exist within the Indian framework of laws; wherein the punishment is insignificant, even the imprisonment is just for three to six months. These punishments are non-cognizable, meaning that the police cannot arrest a person without a warrant. The Government is known to playan important role in this context as it is known tosuo moto take action when such happenings occur. The judiciary is proactively changing the scenario of animal rights in India. However, it can be concluded that if the punishments for violations of existing rules shall be made stricter.[12]

 


[1]Protocol for Transportation of Wild Animals (2011).

[2]Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraj (2014) 7 S.C.C. 547 (India).

[3] Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, No. 26, Acts of Parliament,1960 § 11 (India).

[4] INDIA CONST. art.48.

[5]Narayan Dutt Bhatt v. Union of India(Writ Petition (PIL) No. 43 of 2014).

[6]Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, No. 53, Acts of Parliament, 1972 (India).

[7]Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2016, Act no. 95, Acts of Parliament,2016 (India).

[8]Transport of Animals Rules, 1978 (India).

[9]Transport of Animals (Amendment) Rules, 2001 (India).

[10]Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Transport of Animals on Foot) Rules, 2001 (India).

[11]Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals Act, 1960 (India).

[12]Rebecca Furtado,Cruelty against Animals in India  (July 27 , 2016) https://blog.ipleaders.in/cruelty-animals-india/.

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Submitted by Purnima Mathur

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