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Animal Cruelty in Indian Slaughterhouses

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughterhouse) Rules, 2000 have provided the principles and guidelines that are to be followed by the people managing slaughterhouses across the country, however there are several illegal storages and slaughterhouses which send out meat by not complying to the rules and regulations due to the process of meat laundering. India is one of the largest exporters of meat due to this cruel practice. The food safety act 2006 gives the rules regarding the permit to start a slaughterhouse and there are several which currently exist in the country without obeying the rules and had started without the relevant permit. Section 7 of the Prevention of cruelty to Animals (slaughterhouse) rules provides the requirement and criteria that are to be followed when building the slaughterhouse. Section 6 states the requirements of how the slaughter should be done. It has been stated that slaughter halls in a slaughterhouse shall provide separate sections of adequate dimensions sufficient for slaughter of individual animals to ensure that the animal to be slaughtered is not within the sight of other animals. Every slaughterhouse as soon as possible shall provide a separate space for stunning of animals prior to slaughter, bleeding and dressing of the carcasses. However, after PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) had investigated Mumbai’s deonar slaughterhouse where it had been reported that buffaloes had been killed in front of other animals and they were killed without being stunned initially. The slaughterhouse had clearly violated section 6 and 7 of the PCA (slaughterhouse) rules as they were not only brutally murdered without complying to the rules but also the whole environment had been filthy and not cleaned on a regular basis. There are several evidences to show how cruelly these animals had been treated in these inhuman conditions.

In the famous case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union territory of Delhi, the petition had been filed due to the unhygienic condition of the idgah slaughterhouse and it had been stated that the animals were  slaughtered ruthlessly on this floor and they spend their last moments screaming and beating in the filth of the entrails and blood.[1] The petition was filed in 1995 and till day, there had been no or little effort in increasing hygiene and sanitation standards. According to a report published by the New Delhi-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Vatavaran in 2000, A peep into legal and illegal slaughterhouses as against 3,600 legal slaughterhouses in the country there are 32,000 illegal ones. The Vatavaran study found that as against the permissible slaughtering limit of 2,500 animals, around 8000 animals were butchered in Idgah every day.[2] The limit of animals that are slaughtered in a day was introduced in the petition filed by Maneka Gandhi.

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The case had set up as a precedent for other slaughterhouses across the country as several guidelines were put forth that were to be followed. Idgah had not disposed the animal waste in accordance with the rules and the animals had been tied up near blood and bones of the animals. According to Section 11(1)(e) of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, the animals must not be kept in a place which does not suit the measurement standards put forth. Idgah had stored the animals in close proximity to each other leading to suffocation of the cattle and other animals. They had clearly violated the guidelines put forth by the PCA 1960. There were several cases reported across the country about how chilli paste had been put into the eyes of the cattle to prevent them from dying till the transporter reached the slaughterhouses. Several rescue missions had witnessed the animals being tortured like this for mere prevention of financial loss. According to Section 11(1)(a), animals must not be kicked, beaten and tortured, however, while transporting animals to different locations, the handlers constantly beat and kick the animals to force them into the congested transporting units. The problem is that the slaughterhouses that violate these rules are mostly illegal. There is no notification that they are running operations. In India as stated earlier, the number of illegal slaughterhouses is more than the units running their operations with the permit. Section 9 of the PCA (slaughterhouse rules), the guidelines on to how inspections of slaughterhouse should be done is given. However, these rules are avoided by them as inspectors would not know where the unit is and due to the illegal operations, the unit would be kept unknown. These slaughterhouses will never comply to any of the rules and slaughter animals beyond the limit provided by law.

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During this Covid 19 pandemic, several animals are neglected of veterinary care and suffering of several parasitical diseases. Section 4 of the PCA (Transport of Animals on Foot) 2001, animals which are transported by foot by the handlers must provide a certificate of a veterinary doctor in respect of each animal to be transported to the effect that such animal is in a fit condition for such transportation.[3] These rules even apply to the animals which are transported in vehicles which are clearly stated transport of animals, rules, 1978. During such lockdown restrictions, animals are kept in those ill conditions and are not treated with the basic care needed. The minimum requirements are not being provided to them as the handlers are not visiting them on a regular basis due to the lockdown rules put forth by the government. To improve the conditions of the animals transported across the county, the increasing number of illegal slaughterhouses must be taken out. Several missions and plans must be framed by the government to close all the illegal units. Constant checking of animal transportation is key, and police must catch hold of the transporters who take several cattle to the slaughterhouse to prevent congestion and suffocation of animals behind the trucks. The limit of the animals slaughtered put forth in the Maneka Gandhi case must be followed strictly and the government should take action on the slaughterhouses that slaughter over the provided limit. India is the largest exporter of beef due to the several illegal slaughterhouses present. Once these illegal units are exposed, the condition of the animals would simultaneously improve and will only be done when strict action is taken by the state governments governing the areas where they exist.

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[1] Maneka Gandhi vs Union Territory Of Delhi And Ors (1995), DLT 571.

[2] Firdous Ali and Radhika Mohan , The meat you eat, Down To Earth, https://www.downtoearth.org.in/indepth/the-meat-you-eat-13283.

[3] Section 4 of the PCA (transport of animals on foot) 2001


Cite this article (The Bluebook 20th ed.)-

Vaishnav Arun Kumar, Animal Cruelty in Indian Slaughterhouses, Ex Gratia Law Journal, (October 13, 2020), https://exgratialawjournal.in/blawg/environmental-law/animal-cruelty-in-indian-slaughterhouses-by-vaishnav-arun-kumar/.

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Author

Vaishnav Arun Kumar
Student - O. P. Jindal University