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Enhancing animal protection: A comparative analysis of BNS and IPC by honorary animal welfare

The Indian Penal Code ( IPC ), which has been in force since 1860, has seen numerous amendments over the years to address evolving societal norms and legal requirements. However, a significant overhaul came with the introduction of the Bharatiya Nyaay Sanhita (BNS). The BNS aims to modernize and streamline the criminal justice system in India, including provisions related to animal cruelty. This post will delve into how the BNS improves upon the IPC in terms of animal cruelty, the relevant sections under the BNS, and the corresponding sections from the IPC. Additionally, we will explore future amendments needed to strengthen these laws further.

Comparison: BNS vs. IPC on Animal Cruelty
Enhanced Definitions and Scope
One of the key improvements in the BNS is the broader and more precise definitions related to animal cruelty. The IPC's provisions were often criticized for being outdated and insufficient in scope. The BNS addresses this by incorporating a wider range of actions that constitute cruelty towards animals.

Harsher Penalties
Under the IPC, penalties for animal cruelty were often deemed too lenient to act as a deterrent. The BNS introduces more stringent punishments, reflecting the growing societal consensus on the need for stronger measures to protect animals. This change is expected to have a more significant impact on preventing animal cruelty.

Applicable Sections Under BNS
The BNS has reorganized and renumbered the sections related to animal cruelty, providing a more logical and structured framework. Here are the key sections under the BNS, along with their corresponding sections from the IPC:

1. Section 321 (BNS) - Cruelty to Animals
-Replaces IPC Section 428 & 429
- This section addresses causing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals. The BNS expands the scope to include a wider range of acts, including neglect and abandonment.

2. Section 322 (BNS) - Killing or Maiming Animals
- Replaces IPC Section 428 & 429
- The BNS consolidates the provisions related to killing or maiming animals, ensuring more severe punishments for such actions.

3. Section 323 (BNS) - Poisoning Animals
- Replaces IPC Section 277 & 328
- This section specifically addresses the act of poisoning animals, an area previously covered under broader sections in the IPC.

4. Section 324 (BNS) - Animal Fights and Related Activities
- Replaces IPC Section 11 (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act)
- The BNS includes explicit provisions against organizing or participating in animal fights, addressing a critical gap in the IPC.

5. Section 325 (BNS) - Neglect of Animals
- New Provision
- This section is a new addition that addresses the neglect of animals, covering areas such as failure to provide adequate food, water, and shelter.

Strengthening the BNS: Future Amendments
While the BNS represents a significant step forward, there is always room for improvement. Here are some recommendations for future amendments to further strengthen animal cruelty laws under the BNS:

1. Enhanced monitoring and enforcement
- Establish dedicated animal welfare units within law enforcement agencies to ensure effective monitoring and enforcement of animal cruelty laws.

2. Stricter licensing and regulation
- Implement stricter licensing and regulation for pet shops, breeders, and animal shelters to ensure that animals are kept in humane conditions.

3. Public awareness and education
- Launch comprehensive public awareness and education campaigns to promote understanding and respect for animal rights, emphasizing the legal consequences of cruelty.

4. Increased penalties and fines
- Periodically review and increase the penalties and fines associated with animal cruelty to ensure they remain an effective deterrent.

5. Judicial training
- Provide specialized training for judges and prosecutors on animal cruelty cases to ensure that these cases are handled with the seriousness they deserve.

6. Collaboration with NGOs
- Foster collaboration between government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working in the field of animal welfare to leverage their expertise and resources.

7. Comprehensive data collection
- Establish a comprehensive database to track incidents of animal cruelty, prosecutions, and outcomes to identify trends and areas needing improvement.

8. Amendment to include wild animals
- Extend the provisions of the BNS to cover acts of cruelty towards wild animals, ensuring comprehensive protection for all animals.

The Bharatiya Nyaay Sanhita marks a significant improvement over the Indian Penal Code in addressing animal cruelty. With more precise definitions, broader scope, and harsher penalties, the BNS is better equipped to protect animals and deter cruelty. However, ongoing efforts and amendments are necessary to ensure that these laws remain effective and continue to evolve in response to changing societal values and challenges. By implementing the recommendations outlined above, India can further strengthen its legal framework and ensure the humane treatment of all animals.

Authored by: Utpal Khot, an animal activist and honorary animal welfare representative