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Report No. 269



1.1 The modern legal system differentiates between humans and animals on the basis of cognition, social capacities such as culture and moral capacities.1 Animal welfare jurisprudence urges for re-examination of this imaginary boundary. Jeremy Bentham, argued that ability to suffer rather than the ability to reason should inform the way law treats animal. He remarked:

"The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withheld from them but by the hand of tyranny. The question is not, can they reason? Nor can they talk? But, can they suffer?"2 Animal welfare debate emphasises on taking into account the suffering of animals and for framing laws that are more sensitive towards this end. In recent years animal welfare jurisprudence has been insisting for adopting more compassionate methods of meat production and improving animal conditions in factory farms.

It has persistently been suggested that improved animal welfare result in better and safer food through 'reduced incidence of infectious disease on farms, reduced shedding of human pathogens by farm animals and reduced antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance'3It has been found that experienced and sensitive handling of livestock, prevents quality deficiencies in meat and by-products.4

1.2 On March 2, 2017, the Law Commission of India received a reference from the Ministry of Law and Justice asking the Commission to conduct a detailed study on the existing laws and international practices on the transport and housekeeping of poultry birds.

1.3 Animals find mention in religion, folk tales and mythology, in direct and indirect ways. They define ways of existence and life events. It is believed that animals can communicate and have sentiments as well5. It is also significant that humans always had a symbiotic relation with the animals. Indian ethos has always considered animals quintessential aspect of human living. Kautilya's Arthshastra talks extensively of animal welfare. For example, it prohibited killing or injuring protected species and animals in reserved parks and sanctuaries. Village headman was responsible for preventing cruelty to animals and a person found treating an animal cruelly could be restrained in any manner.6

1.4 Worldwide, the chickens have been commercially trait selected for two reasons, that of egg production (layers) and meat production (broilers). The Law Commission in this report has examined the issues pertaining to both, the layers and broilers. Specifically in layer birds, the issues relate to disposal of male chicks and housing of egg laying hens. In case of broilers, the issue of trait selection, housing, transport and slaughter of the birds, have been examined.

1.5 The recommendations are for both, the egg-laying hens (layers) and the meat producing hens (broilers). It is noted that the Animal Welfare Board of India ('AWBI') had prepared the draft 'Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Egg Laying Hens) Rules' in 2012 recommending to the Ministry of Environment and Forests to notify the draft Rules as on 27th December, 2012. However the draft Rules have not been notified yet.

1.6 The present Report concludes with two sets of draft rules, the 'Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Egg Laying Hens) Rules' which is a modified version of 2012 draft rules of the AWBI. The modifications made are in lines with the objects of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 ('PCA'), the constitutional provisions and the best practices in other countries. The second draft rules propose to deal with the 'Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Broiler Chickens) Rules' with respect to meat producing chickens.

Transportation and House-keeping of Egg-laying hens (layers) and Broiler Chickens Back

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