India's first Centre for Animal Law has been established at the NALSAR University of Law in Hyderabad.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi inaugurated the centre at the university on Friday.
As mentor of the centre, she advised the students to do research on critical issues.
She said there was need for more research on several issues in view of increasing litigation about animal rights and their welfare.
The centre will create curriculum on animal welfare laws, including developing topics for research.
It will also conduct workshops on animal laws and animal welfare issues with judicial magistrates, animal welfare advocates, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders in the government.
Humane Society International (HSI), India, will work with NALSAR to steer and coordinate the activities of the centre.
NG Jayasimha, Managing Director of HIS, India, has been appointed as the honorary director of the centre. He thanked the board of NALSAR and its Vice Chancellor Faizan Mustafa for making the centre happen.
"We hope that this centre will be first of many institutions dedicated to research and advocate animal protection, the most ignored yet crucial branch of law because research shows that animal cruelty and criminal behaviour against humans are linked," he said.
Addressing the students, Maneka Gandhi said they (students) should do critical gap studies like the impact of China on Indian animals.
She said 300 elephants were being killed every year in India after being hit by trains and somebody could do a research on this.
The Central Minister said critical gap studies could be done on the importance of animals for ecology and for the better health human beings.
Voicing concern over the slaughter of camels on Eid-ul-Adha, she noted that only a few hundred camels were remaining with majority being transported from Rajasthan to Bangladesh.
Maneka Gandhi said the sharp fall in number of camels was also having an impact on the defence as Border Security Force personnel were finding to difficult to patrol the border with Pakistan, especially in Kutch area.
She said the findings of the studies could serve as resource for the court cases. She suggested that the students could spend two months every year in her office as part of their study on critical issues.
Studies were also necessary to expose the cheating persons like those selling monitor lizard penis as lucky plant 'Hatha Jodi' and others exploiting religious sentiments, she said.
Underlining the importance of various animals, she said animal welfare was not about dog or cat but it was about human welfare.
During an hour-long lecture, she explained why animals like dogs, snakes, cockroaches were important for the existence of human beings. She also spoke about different cases for preventing cruelty to chicken, horses and other animals.
Lauding NALSAR for launching the course in animal law, she suggested that the centre should go a step forward to do critical studies like National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, which has emerged as think-tank for scientific work on environment.