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Draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Protection of animals is declared as a fundamental duty in the Indian Constitution and there are numerous animal welfare laws in India such as the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 etc. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act of 1960 is being updated, and the Center has recommended 61 revisions, including a three-year prison sentence for "gruesome cruelty" and a five-year prison sentence for animal slaughter.

The Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, and Dairy has made the draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, (Amendment) Bill-2022. The draft Bill has been made open to the public, and the government is accepting Reccomendations until December 7, 2022.

Historical Background:
The 42nd Amendment to the Indian Constitution in 1976 was an important step towards laying the groundwork for animal protection in India. The constitutional provisions establishing the duty of animal protection has lead to the enactment of animal protection laws in both Centre and State, most important of which being the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 contains India's fundamental animal cruelty statute. The aim of the act is to avoid the needless suffering of animals and to reform the laws pertaining to it.

The Animal Welfare Board of India was founded by the Indian government to perform some of the following duties:
  1. Advising the central government on changes and regulations to reduce needless suffering while transporting animals, using them in studies, or keeping them in captivity.
  2. Promotion of monetary aid and animal shelters for elderly animals.
  3. Advising the government on rules for animal hospitals and medical treatment.
  4. Spreading knowledge and awareness.
  5. Providing guidance to the central government on matters of animal welfare.

Need For The Bill
The Supreme Court held that the Parliament must make amendment of the PCA Act to provide an effective prevention for violation of Section 11, sufficient penalties and punishments should be imposed".

The bill shall be approved since it encompasses various stringent amendments and effective provisions.

Some of the features would include:
It aims to impose severe penalties on anyone who commit acts of animal cruelty.

A number of the offences included by this Bill are rendered cognizable, which exposes offenders to a warrantless arrest.

The Bill suggests creating a new crime called "gruesome cruelty" that would encompass bestiality. Any conduct involving animals that may cause the animal severe pain and suffering and is likely to render it permanently disabled is included under the heading "gruesome cruelty."

A one-year sentence that may be prolonged up to three years in jail or both may be imposed for violations of this subsection, in addition to fines ranging from Rs.50,000 to Rs.75,000 or the cost of the animal, whichever is greater.

A five-year jail sentence is the maximum penalty. This measure has introduced a new section, Section 11(B), to address this.

The draft bill also suggests adding a new clause that grants five liberties to animals. Any animal in a person's custody or under his control shall be free from malnutrition, hunger, and thirst, Environmental discomfort Pain, damage, and disease, Stress and anxiety, freedom to display the species' typical behaviour.

According to the rules set forth by the state government or the board, local governments such as municipalities or panchayats are in charge of providing for the care of communal animals.

All these proposed changes will ripe benefits once enacted and implemented effectively.

Other Relevant Laws:
The Constitution of India 1960 makes it the "duty of every citizen of India to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for all living creatures.". Additionally, by adopting a broad judicial interpretation and including them in the scope of the basic right to life and liberty under Article 21, which is enforceable in court, they may be enforced.

The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 contains the main legislation governing wildlife in India. Any wild animal or bird must not be killed, trapped, poached, poisoned, or otherwise harmed according to the law.

According to Section 428 of the Indian Penal Code, it is unlawful to kill or injure an animal worth 10 rupees or more. According to the law, whomever kills, maims, poisons, or renders an animal worthless for ten rupees or more will be penalised with up to ten years in jail, a fine, or a combination of the two. While the punishment for the same act, but with regard to animals valued at 50 rupees or more, is covered under Section 429 of the Code. The crime is penalised by any type of imprisonment for a time that may go up to five years, a fine, or both.

Some experts have noted that just stiffening the penalties may not be sufficient to end animal cruelty. Some claim that populations like "madaris" (those who perform with animals) and "saperas" who are already marginalised may be disproportionately impacted. Others contend that emphasising each instance of "cruelty," such as farmers erecting electric fences around their farms, is an inadequate strategy.

Also, action is required to reduce the greater problems of disappearing animal habitats and climate change escalating man-animal conflict. The draft prevention of cruelty to animals bill would be effective after making few changes on the above aspects and executed properly.

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