The issue of animal welfare in India is not taken seriously despite the presence of strict laws protecting the well being of animals.
The recent incidents of cruelty on animals have once again ignited the need to enact the Animal Welfare Bill 2014, which substantially increases the penalty for offences relating to animals.
The Existing Laws:
The Constitution of India under Article 51 A(g) states that it’s a fundamental duty of every citizen to have compassion for living creatures.
There are provisions even under IPC (Indian Penal Code) which makes killing any animal including stray animals a punishable offence under sections 428 and 429.
Even the PCA (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) Act 1960 has many specific provisions although it lacks the armoury which is required for the implementation.
The Animal Welfare Bill:
The Animal Welfare Bill however has the potential to make a difference in the current scenario.
Currently the penalty for cruelty to animals is between Rs 10 to 50 for the first offence, which may go up to Rs 100 for a subsequent offence or up to three months in prison.
On the other hand the draft Bill, if passed in its current form, would result in the penalty for cruelty to animals being between Rs 10,000 and 25,000 or imprisonment for up to two years – or both – for a first offence.
For a subsequent offence, the penalty would be between 50,000 rupees and one lakh rupees and imprisonment for one to three years.
The draft bill is also far more geared towards animal welfare than just animal protection.
Farm animals are also covered in the proposed Act and killing them in any way other than that which is prescribed in the draft will be considered an offence.
Killing them in unlicensed backyard butcheries or by hacking at them will dull knives on the street will be prohibited.
Major General (Retd.) R.M. Kharb, Chairman of AWBI, a statutory advisory body under the Union Environment Ministry, had written to then Union Minister Prakash Javadekar saying it is “extremely distressing” that the Bill still remains in “cold storage.”
A strong animal protection law is the need of the hour, not just in view of the rise in abuse and crimes, but also because there is a very high level of positive interest among people in ensuring that animals are protected.
Change is Due:
The assault on police horse Shaktiman in Dehradun, the murder of puppies in Delhi and Bengaluru and the acid attack on a pony in Hyderabad, has put the spotlight on the pressing need to strengthen animal laws in the country.
Friendicoes, a renowned Delhi based animal care NGO has initiated a unique campaign that allows you to voice your support for the passage of the Animal Welfare Bill.
The bill defines, in clear terms the scope of animal cruelty, and punishments to violators. When you call the toll-free: 180030005581, the call will automatically disconnects after 2 ring, and is a form of petition.
However, only having laws won’t solve the problem. These laws must be implemented and offenders should be punished to send a strong message among the public.
In addition people at large should be made aware of the rights of animals and the need to treat animals with compassion and respect.