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Sunday, January 8, 2023

punishment for maiming an animal ... what IPC says !!!

Sure you have lot of dogs in your area – stray dogs many a times behave violently and there are instances of dog bite.  Even pets dogs can be ferocious –for those not so inclined to dog behaviour, every dog is a mongrel, capable of physical harm.  King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) is the world's longest venomous snake – and sometime back, a farmer at Srivilliputhur was arrested for killing it. According to newspaper reports,  the farmer  had sighted the cobra in his field while watering plants. When the highly venomous reptile raised its hood, the farmer panicked and tried to back out.  The  snake tried to bite him, after which he hit it on the head with a spade, killing it on the spot.  The  Forest officials, who came to know about the incident from local people, arrested the farmer for killing a rare species of snake and produced him before a court which remanded him to judicial custody for 15 days, officials said. According to Wildlife authorities, the 13ft cobra was not a ferocious reptile as often projected but had a calm nature and avoided confrontation !

A couple of months ago, a 24 year old was arrested on the charge of poaching peacocks near Thirumayam. The accused along with his two accomplices allegedly shot down the birds in a forest area near Thirumayam and had skinned them. Police sources said the three were proceeding on a motorcycle to Ponnamaravathy carrying along with them the carcasses when they were stopped during vehicle checks at Adhanur diversion road. While  one person  was caught and a country gun was recovered;  his accomplices escaped from the scene. The Tirumayam police  registered a case under Section 429 IPC .

The relevant Section of Indian Penal code reads :  429. Mischief by killing or maiming cattle, etc., of any value or any animal of the value of fifty rupees.—Whoever commits mischief by killing, poisoning, maiming or rendering useless, any elephant, camel, horse, mule, buffalo, bull, cow or ox, whatever may be the value thereof, or any other animal of the value of fifty rupees or upwards, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years, or with fine, or with both.

Here is an interesting case of Bombay High Court  in Mar 1916 whence the applicant had been convicted  u/s Sec 429 of IPC for maiming a mare.

Before the Court it was submitted that in the alleged maiming nearly one-half of one ear of the mare was cut off by the applicant and that there was no suggestion that the animal's sense of hearing has been impaired. The question  before the High Court was whether such an injury amounted  to maiming within the meaning of Section 429 of the Indian Penal Code.   The Court opined that the maiming' of the section could imply some permanent disability inflicted on the animal and to them it appeared that meaning of the word is the notion of the privation of the use of some limb or member involving a permanent injury, and not a mere disfigurement. That view the Hon’ble Judge felt to be in accordance with Mr. Justice Philips's earlier decision.   It also considered  Stroud's Judicial Dictionary where the definition is -bodily harm whereby a man is deprived of the use of any member of his body, or of any sense which he can use in fighting, or by the loss of which he is generally and permanently weakened."  The word occurs in the English Malicious Damage Act, 1857,  and commentary upon the statute that "to constitute a maiming, a permanent injury must be inflicted on the animal."
horse ... an illustrative photo ...

In the impugned case there was no permanent injury, but a mere disfigurement, and hence the Court opined that the case would not fall under Sec 429 of IPC and altered the conviction as under Sec 426 of IPC reducing it to a term of three months' rigorous imprisonment. Since the applicant had already suffered this term of imprisonment, he was ordered to be discharged and set at liberty.

Section 426  of IPC : is  Punishment for mischief.—Whoever commits mischief shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

9th Oct 2014.

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