Anyone harming or killing animals may no longer escape by paying a penalty of Rs 50. The government has made a draft to change the 60-year-old Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, proposing a penalty of up to Rs 75,000 or three times the cost of the animal with a jail term of up to five years or both if an act of an individual or an organization leads to an animal’s death.
The draft has proposed offenses in three categories – minor injury, major injury leading to persistent disability, and death to an animal due to cruel practice – and ordered different penalties varying from Rs 750 to Rs 75,000 and jail term up to five years for different crimes.
The existing law stipulates a penalty between Rs 10 and Rs 50 for any act of cruelty such as beating, kicking, torturing, starving, overloading, overriding, and mutilating an animal. It doesn’t have different categories of offenses for cruelty. The animal in the Act is described as any living creature other than a human being.
In a written response to a Parliament question in Rajya Sabha on Friday, minister of fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying Giriraj Singh said, “The need for amending the PCA, 1960, by starting more severe penalties has been recognized by the government. The draft amendment worked out includes increasing monetary penalties and punishment provisions.”
The minister, however, did not give details, including monetary penalties and quantum of punishment. The question was asked by Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekhar while pointing to a case in Kerala where an elephant was suspected to have consumed a pineapple filled with powerful firecrackers which exploded in its mouth, leading to death, in the Silent Valley forest last year.
Sources said the draft amendment also provides for making offenses of cruelty against animals cognizable and making the state animal welfare board a statutory body. There were mixed reactions to the amendment in the parliament. ‘so if I slaughter them & eat them it’s okay but kicking etc is cruelty, the funny world we’re living in!!’ One commented. “It’s a work in progress. The draft will be put out in the public domain, seeking comments from stakeholders, including the general public and experts. It will be finalized only after analyzing the comments,” an official said.