Strict punishment for cruelty towards animals soon?

The Central government proposes several amendments to age-old PCA Act to ensure that it acts as a deterrent for potential offenders

CHENNAI: The Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying is proposing several amendments to the age-old Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, that would make it stricter and act as a deterrent to offenders. 

Once the revised Act comes into effect, any kind of animal cruelty would attract heavy penalty and may even imprison the habitual offender for up to five years. A stakeholders’ consultation was recently held after which proposed amendments are put in public domain seeking comments on or before April 25.

The ministry took the initiative following pressure from several MPs and civil society representatives. Two private member Bills were also introduced in the Parliament and the Supreme Court has also observed for amendment of the PCA Act and the need to enact stringent punishment in view of increasing incidence of animal cruelty.

For instance, under Section 11 of the PCA Act that deals with any kind of cruelty, the first-time offender would attract a meagre fine of Rs 10 to Rs 50; for second offence, the individual will go scot-free on payment of Rs 25 to Rs 100, or face imprisonment of up to 3 months, or both.  But rarely, offenders are convicted. However, the revised Act proposes to levy fines up to Rs 7,500 with increased jail terms of 6 months.

The ministry is also proposing to introduce new Sections 11A (gruesome cruelty) and 11B (killing of animals). The gruesome cruelty or life threatening cruelty against animals will attract a fine of `50,000 per animal or cost of the animal as determined by the jurisdictional veterinarian with imprisonment of one year, which may extend up to three years, or both. 

If you kill an animal, a fine of Rs 75,000 or three times the cost of the animal with imprisonment of three years that may extend up to five years, or both, is proposed. The penalty for practising “doom dev” or any other substance (injection of any substance) to improve lactation is also proposed to be increased from current Rs 1,000 to Rs 75,000. Violation of conditions prescribed by the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA), and using animals for performance without proper consent will also attract hefty fines.

Welcoming the move, M Sai Vignesh, a Chennai-based animal activist/rescuer and founder of Almighty Animal Care Trust, said: “I have filed several cases of animal cruelty (dog poisoning, dog sexual abuse, illegal slaughter, animal trafficking etc.). I have personally faced many constraints while filing cases because the current Act is not strong. People just walk away paying `50 as penalty and repeat the crimes. I am glad the government has decided to amend the Act.”

A leading animal rights lawyer, Alwyn Sebastian, said: “The amendments introduced will definitely cause a surge in the number of FIRs registered for animal cruelty. Creating a separate offence for “gruesome acts of cruelty” making it cognizable, elevates offences against animals from a misdemeanour, permitting the police to now arrest. It’s prayed that the amendments are brought into action soon so as to hold perpetrators of animal abuse to account.”

State Animal Welfare Board to be formed
The revised Act also proposes to constitute a State Animal Welfare Board within three months of the amendment. Its members shall be nominated on a purely honorary basis

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