Draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Amendment) Bill-2022: Coming, a tough law to prevent cruelty to animals. Why is it needed?

Source: The post is based on the article “Coming, a tough law to prevent cruelty to animals. Why is it needed?” published in Indian Express on 25th November.

What is the News?

The government has introduced the draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Amendment) Bill-2022 to amend the six-decade-old law Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960.

What are the key provisions of the Draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Amendment) Bill-2022?

Bestiality as a Crime: The draft includes ‘bestiality’ as a crime under the new category of ‘gruesome cruelty’.

“Bestiality” means any kind of sexual activity or intercourse between a human being and animal.

Gruesome cruelty has been defined as “an act that leads to extreme pain and suffering to the animals which may cause lifelong disability or death”.

Punishment for Gruesome Cruelty: A minimum fine of Rs 50,000 may be imposed and may be increased to Rs 75,000 by a judicial magistrate in consultation with the jurisdictional veterinarians, or the cost may be determined by the judicial magistrate whichever is more, or a maximum fine of one year that may be extended to three years.

Punishment for killing an animal: The draft proposes a maximum 5-year imprisonment, along with a fine, for killing an animal. For this, a new clause, Section 11(B) has been proposed.

Freedom to animals: The draft proposes the insertion of a new Section 3A which provides ‘five freedoms’ to animals.

– It shall be the duty of every person having charge of an animal to ensure that the animal in his care or under his charge has: 1) Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition; 2) Freedom from discomfort due to the environment; 3) Freedom from pain, injury and diseases; 4) Freedom to express normal behaviour for the species, and 5) Freedom from fear and distress.

Community animals: The local government shall be responsible for their care. 

– Community animal is any animal born in a community for which no ownership has been claimed excluding wild animals as defined under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

Who has called for these amendments and on what grounds?

In 2014, the Supreme Court, in ‘Animal Welfare Board of India vs A Nagaraja & Others’, had said that “Parliament is expected to make a proper amendment of the PCA Act to provide an effective deterrent” and that “for violation of Section 11, adequate penalties and punishments should be imposed”.

In 2020, a group of MPs cutting across party lines wrote to the Animal Husbandry Minister urging that the punishment in the 1960 Act be increased.

What are the concerns against these amendments?

Firstly, simply increasing the quantum of punishment may not be enough to stop cruelty against animals. Some already marginalized communities like ‘madaris’ (who perform with animals) and ‘saperas’ (snake charmers) may be disproportionately affected.

Secondly, focusing on the individual act of ‘cruelty’, such as farmers putting up electric fences around their fields, is an incomplete approach and steps are needed to mitigate the larger issues of vanishing animal habitats and climate change exacerbating man-animal conflict.

Print Friendly and PDF