Section 289. Negligent conduct with respect to animal

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Section 289 - Negligent conduct with respect to animal

The offences concerning public health, safety convenience, decency and morals are included in Chapter XIV of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The following specific instances are dealt with in this chapter :-

i. Act likely to spread infection (ss. 269 - 271)

ii. Adulteration of food or drink (ss. 272 - 273)

iii. Adulteration of drugs (ss. 274 – 276)

iv. Fouling water of a public spring or reservoir (s. 277)

v. Making atmosphere noxious to health (s. 278)

vi. Rash driving or riding (s. 279)

vii. Rash navigation (ss. 280 – 282)

viii. Exhibition of false light, mark or buoy (s. 281)

ix. Danger or obstruction in a public way or line of navigation (s. 283)

x. Negligence in respect of poison (s. 284), fire (s. 285) or explosive substances (s. 286)

xi. Negligence in respect of machinery (s. 287), building (s. 288) or animals (s. 289)

xii. Selling obscene literature and pictures (ss. 292, 293) or doing obscene acts (s. 294)

xiii. Keeping a lottery office (s. 294 A)

Section 289 is about negligent conduct with respect to animal. Negligence means the failure to meet a standard of behavior established to protect society against unreasonable risk. There are four elements of Negligence :-

a) Duty of Care (also called Standard of Care) – A duty of care means an obligation to act with a certain degree of reasonable caution and good sense.

b) Breach of Duty – The duty by falling to behave with reasonable care.

c) Causation – The connection between action and injuries is called causation.

d) Damages

According to the section 289 of the Indian Penal Code - whoever knowingly or negligently omits to take such order with any animal in his possession as is sufficient to guard against any probable danger to human life, or any probable danger of grieves hurt from such animal, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with both.

The essential ingredients of this section are :-

1. Animal much be in his possession

2. As is sufficient to guard against any probable danger to human life, or any probable danger of grievous hurt from such animal

This segment is about animal handling that is either improper or reckless. It does not only apply to savage animals, but to any wild or domestic animal, such as a pony.

In the case of wild and savage animals, a savage or mischievous temper, is presumed to be known to their owner and to all men as a usual accompaniment of such animals; and hence a positive duty is cast on the owner to protect the public against the mischief resulting from such animals being at large. Anyone who keeps such a wild animal as a tiger or bear, which escapes and does damage, is liable without any proof of notice of the animal’s ferocity; in such a case it may be said ‘res ipsa loquitur’.

In the case of animal which are tame and mild in their general temper no mischievous disposition is presumed. It must be shown that the defendant knew that the animal was accustomed to do mischief. Some evidence must be given of the existence of an abnormally vicious disposition. A single instance of ferocity, even a knowledge that it has evinced a savage disposition, is held to be sufficient notice.

1. Animal much be in his possession

The accused must have the possession of the animal which he is bound to keep in control. A bull was let loose by the father of the accused some years ago; on its becoming vicious it was ordered to be shot. The accused having claimed its ownership was convicted of this offence. It was held that it could not be said that the animal was in the possession of the accused and therefore the conviction was illegal. A Hindu set at large, in accordance with his religious usage, a young bull, which a considerable time afterwards became dangerous. He was prosecuted and convicted under this section. It was held that, as the bull was not then in his possession and was not dangerous when set at large, the conviction was bad. Where the owner knowing that his buffalo was of a savage and vicious disposition vis-à-vis human beings, negligently omitted to take such order with the animal as was sufficient to guard against probable danger to human life or any probable danger of grievous hurt, and the animal attacked the complainant in a jungle and wounded him with her horn, it was held that he was guilty of an offence under this section.

2. As is sufficient to guard against any probable danger to human life, or any probable danger of grievous hurt from such animal

Where a pony which was tied negligently got loose, and ran through a crowded bazar, it was held that the conviction under this section was good, because pony on such an occasion might create danger to the lives or limbs of men, women and children, walking in the bazar. The accused, a horse – keeper, harnessed his master’s horse, put him into his carriage, and then went away, leaving the horse and carriage standing in the road of the compound of his master’s house without any justification; it was held that the accused has committed an offence under this section, since the horse was not the less in the actual possession of the servant, because it was for some purpose in the constructive possession of his master.

Any individual who fails to take any animal in his custody in order to guard against danger to human life or grievous injury from such animal commits the offence specified in section 289 of the Criminal Code. The penalty for the offence is six months in prison or a fine, or both. It is an offencethat is both bailable and cognizable. It can be tried in any magistrate's court.