Next up, a strict law to prevent animal cruelty. Why is it needed?

The Center proposed reforming the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, introducing 61 amendments to the law, including three years imprisonment for “heinous cruelty” including “treatment of animals”.

a Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2022, Prepared by the Department of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairy Products, it is open for public comment until 7 December. Once the draft is final, the bill can be introduced in either the winter session or the budget session of Parliament.

What are the most important proposed changes in the law?

Basically, it is proposed to toughen the law with tougher penalties. Many crimes are identified, which means that perpetrators can be arrested without a warrant. The bill proposed including “bestiality” as a crime under the new category of “heinous cruelty”.

The proposed subsection describes “outrageous cruelty” as any act involving animals that results in “extreme pain and suffering” and “has the potential to leave the animal disabled for life.” They include “mutilating or killing an animal by using injections of strychnine into the heart or any other cruel method known to cause permanent bodily harm to the animal or render the animal useless or cause any injury likely to cause death including to animals…”.

The draft proposes fines from 50,000 rupees to 75,000 rupees “or animal cost… whichever is greater or imprisonment for one year which may extend to three years or with both” for the heinous crime of cruelty. For killing an animal, the bill proposes a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

What is the argument for strengthening the law?

In September, a doctor in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, allegedly tied a dog to his car and dragged it through the city. The dog had a broken leg and bruises. A crime like this – fairly common in India – would currently attract charges under Section 428 (harm by killing or maiming animals) IPC and Section 11 (cruelty to animals) of the PCA Act, 1960.

First time offenders are punished under the PCA Act with a fine of 10-50 rupees. If it is found that this is not the first such offense committed by the offender in the last three years, the maximum penalty will be a fine of between 25 and 100 rupees, or imprisonment for three months, or both.

In short, the penalty is ridiculously light in the law as it now exists, and is incapable of acting as any deterrent to potential offenders.

Who called for the amendments and on what grounds?

Along with animal welfare organizations, several political leaders have in the past called for an amendment to the law.

In 2014, the Supreme Court said, in ‘Animal Welfare Council of India v Nagaraga et al.’, that ‘Parliament is expected to make an appropriate amendment to the PCA Act to provide an effective deterrent’ and that ‘for violation of Section 11 appropriate sanctions and penalties should be imposed’.

In September 2020, MP for Kishanganj Muhammed Jawad submitted a bill to parliament stipulating that the maximum penalty be raised to “a fine of not less than ten thousand rupees but which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees or imprisonment for a term which may be up to twenty-five thousand rupees and extend up to one year.” one or with both, and in the event of a second or subsequent offence, to a fine not less than fifty thousand rupees but which may extend to one rupee and to imprisonment for a term not less than one year but which may extend to two years.”

In 2021, Kendrapara MP Anubhav Mohanty also proposed a bill that expands the definition of cruelty to include events where “animals are subjected to cruelty either during sport or the activity itself”, and anyone who “flashes, roasts or kills for superstition or extracts from parts of any live animals by a procedure causing pain and suffering, for the purpose of obtaining hides, oils, or other animal products; dynamite streams, rivers, or other bodies of water for the purpose of catching fish or harming aquatic animals; or electrifying enclosures, without the authority of law, whereby pain and suffering is caused to any animal “.

In 2020, a group of MPs across party lines wrote to the then Animal Husbandry Minister Giriraj Singh, urging an increase in the penalty in the 1960 Act.

What did the government say on this matter?

In April 2021, the center proposed changes where the penalty could be up to 75,000 rupees per animal or three times the cost of the animal as determined by the judicial veterinarian, whichever is greater, and imprisonment for three years could be extended to five years. years or both.

In October 2021, the government said it would introduce a bill to amend the PCA Act. Union Minister for Animal Husbandry Parshottam Rupala told PTI, “We are ready for the Amendment Bill. We are in the process of obtaining the approval of the Council of Ministers.”

The government has finally moved in this direction.

Aside from increasing penalties, what else is being proposed?

The bill proposes introducing a new section providing five freedoms for animals.

“It shall be the duty of every person in charge of an animal to ensure that the animal in his care or under his management is free from:

Thirst, hunger and malnutrition.

* Discomfort due to the environment.

* Pain, injury and diseases.

* Fear and distress

* Freedom to express the natural behavior of the species

The proposed law also states that “in the event of a community animal, the local government such as the municipality or panchayat will be responsible for the care of the community animals in a manner developed by the state government or council”.

The draft defines a “community animal” as “any animal born in a community whose ownership has not been claimed by any individual or organisation, with the exception of wild animals as defined under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 (53 of 1972).”

How frequent are animal cruelties?

While everyday acts of stoning or beating of animals are widespread and common, the crime sometimes takes bizarre and perverted forms.

* In April of this year, four people were arrested for committing unnatural sexual acts on a monitor lizard in Maharashtra.

* In July 2021, the Kerala High Court learned automatically after a dog was mauled to death by three people at Adimallatura Beach in Thiruvananthapuram.

In 2020, the death of a pregnant elephant after biting into a fruit filled with explosives sparked nationwide outrage.

In February of the same year, three men were arrested in Ludhiana for allegedly beating a stray dog ​​with iron bars, throwing it from a rooftop and then dragging it down the road hitched in an auto-rickshaw.

Are there fears of tightening the law?

While comments have been invited on the bill, some experts have pointed out in the past that simply increasing the amount of punishment may not be enough to stop cruelty to animals, and some already marginalized communities such as ‘madaris’ (those who perform with animals) and ‘saperas’ (snake charmers) ) may be disproportionately affected.

Others have argued that focusing on a single act of ‘cruelty’, such as farmers putting up electric fencing around their fields, is an incomplete approach, and steps are needed to mitigate the larger problems of disappearing animal habitats and climate change exacerbating people and animals. . conflict.

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