BENGALURU: WITH the shocking rise in the number of cases of animal cruelty and crimes against animals, efforts are on to bring amendments to the archaic animal protection laws. Activists have been petitioning the Prime Minister to enhance penalties and imposing stricter punishment.
Many celebrities, animal welfare activists, concerned organisations and even politicians have signed a petition and called for reforming the existing provisions in the animal cruelty laws. Under the existing Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, penalties are as low as `10 and a maximum fine of `50 for convicted first offenders who abuse or even kill an animal.
This year, many incidents of abuse — involving canines, ponies, horses, and even leopards — have been reported from cities like Jaipur, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Bhavnagar including the recent incident where two students had hurled a dog, Bhadra, off a rooftop in Chennai.
Another incident on March 14 that horrified the country was when a police horse named Shaktiman lost a leg in an alleged attack by a BJP legislator during a political rally in Dehradun. The horse eventually died.
Animal welfare activists say such incidents clearly show that heftier penalties need to be levied to prevent cruelty to animals. According to Humane Society International, India, one of the largest animal protection organisations in the world, the existing Act should be replaced with the Draft Animal Welfare Bill 2014 prepared by the Animal Welfare Board of India. This will act as an effective deterrent.
They state, “The PCA Act was a strongly worded law for 1960 when it was drafted, but has failed to protect animals due to lack of enforcement. We urge Parliament to treat this issue with utmost urgency so that animal abusers do not go unpunished.”
People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), CEO Poorva Joshipura adds, “We are campaigning to strengthen our petition to ensure that people who abuse animals serve jail time, pay significant fines, receive psychological counselling and are banned from interacting with animals.”
Meanwhile, BJP MP Poonam Mahajan has introduced a private member’s Bill in Parliament to enhance the penalty. Further, a group of Parliamentarians, cutting across party lines, have also written letters and urged PM Narendra Modi to come out with stricter punishments.