This initiative by LawSikho aims to give abused animals a fighting chance at justice

Started in May 2021, the initiative files RTIs and works on complaints filed by the public.
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In India, many legislations have been passed for the welfare of animals. However, it is still unclear if there are any regulatory firms to check if things are on track.

This is where online legal education platform LawSikho’s animal welfare initiative, “Lawyers for animal defense,” comes into play. LawSikho has been judiciously sharing information on helpline numbers and steps to take, on legal blogsite iPleaders, to help or defend animals in distress, especially street animals like dogs, cats, cattle, etc.

“There are numerous laws that were introduced by legislation to protect animals, but the problem is, these laws are not in action or hardly anyone follows them,” says Ramanuj Mukherjee, CEO and Co-founder at LawSikho.

Ramanuj Mukherjee

He goes on to list the many Acts drafted by the legislation for the prevention of cruelty to animals -

  • The prevention of cruelty to animals Act, 1960
  • The prevention of cruelty to draught and pack animals’ rules 1965
  • The prevention of cruelty to animals’ rules 1965
  • The prevention of cruelty (Capture of animals) Rules, 1979
  • The performing animals’ rules 1978
  • The transportation of animal’s rules
  • The Animal Birth control (Dogs) rules 2001
  • The prevention and control of infectious and contagious disease in Animals Act, 2009
  • The Prevention of cruelty to animals (regulation of livestock Markets) rules 2017
  • The prevention of cruelty to animals (dog breeding and marketing) rules 2017
“While reading these acts and rules you must be thinking, do they really exist? Yes, they do, but no one follows it nor takes it seriously, and hardly anyone comes forward to file a complaint if there has been a violation,” he adds.

From animal lover to protector

Ramanuj is an animal lover. Infact, LawSikho's office, which is in Sainik Farms, New Delhi, is in an open environment that is home to stray dogs, cats, and birds who roam freely and are provided with healthy food regularly.

Talking about a recent incident that riled him, he says, “I have seen cruel acts being carried out in such a casual manner. But not all the time you see someone take legal action. Just a few days back, I saw a cow on a street, and an auto driver come and hit the cow for no reason. When I asked him why he was hitting the cow, he did not have any solid reason, and instead said how it was the cow that was blocking his way. These things really shock me.”

According to him, in India, animal law is limited, and the punishment handed out is also very minimal (Rs 50 per animal in fine). “Our laws are so old and not updated and often leads to no consequences to cruel actions.”

What is LawSikho Doing?

LawSikho is filing an RTI (Right to Information) about the working of the boards setup by various authorities to clarify if they are working according to the legislation or if they have any proper system in place, as written/drafted in the Acts.

Image Credit: FIAPO.org

Secondly, LawSikho also works on complaints registered by the public, but they believe there must be more feedback from the public on seeking help and support for abused animals. In the meantime, the agency picks up any cases that require a first information report (FIR) to be filed against animal abusers.

It also tries to establish a connection with government authorities and NGOs from the concerned area to report incidents of cruelty against animals.

Fighting battles

Speaking about a recent incident, Ramanuj recounts filing an FIR against a duo in Shahdara, Delhi, who hit their dog to death with a big stick. The video of the same went viral.

Since being set up in May 2021, the LawSikho team, with the help of over 150 volunteers from across the country, have filed around 500 RTIs.

Apart from this, the team also take up veterinary services like first aid for street animals. Ramanuj claims many Municipal Corporations are lagging behind in working for animals, and there are only a few shelter homes in existence for abandoned animals..

Through LawSikho, Ramanuj now wants more people to be aware of relevant legislations and options before them to act against animal abusers.

Edited by Anju Narayanan

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