Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act

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    In News

    • Recently, the Union Government has proposed to introduce 61 amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act 1960.

    More about the news

    • About:
      • The draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, (Amendment) Bill-2022 has been prepared by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying. 
    • Key provisions of the draft:
      • Imprisonment for killing the animal:
        • The draft proposes a maximum 5-year imprisonment, along with a fine, for killing an animal. For this, a new clause has been proposed.
      • Gruesome cruelty:
        • The Act defines gruesome cruelty as “an act that leads to extreme pain and suffering to the animals which may cause lifelong disability or death”.
        • Gruesome cruelty shall be punishable with a minimum fine of Rs 50,000 which may be extended up to Rs 75,000 or the cost may be decided by judicial magistrate in consultation with the jurisdictional veterinarians whichever is more or with the imprisonment of one year which may extend up to three years or with both
      • Bestiality:
        • The draft includes ‘bestiality’ as a crime under the new category of ‘gruesome cruelty’. 
      • Community animals:
        • In the case of community animals, the local government shall be responsible for their care. 
        • The draft proposals introduce the community animal as – any animal born in a community for which no ownership has been claimed. 
          • It excludes wild animals as defined under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (53 of 1972).
    • Five freedoms to animals:
      • The draft also 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: 
          • Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition; 
          • Freedom from discomfort due to environment; 
          • Freedom from pain, injury and diseases; 
          • Freedom to express normal behaviour for the species; and 
          • Freedom from fear and distress.

    Constitutional protection for animals

    • The Constitution of India establishes a duty on both the State as well as on people to ensure security and conservation of animals at all costs.  
      • Article 48A:
        • According to Article 48A, it is the responsibility of the State to improve the strength of animals and safeguard the wildlife of the country. It shall strive to enhance the population of animals and ensure that they are protected from all attacks. 
      • Article 51A(g):
        • According to Article 51A(g), it is the Fundamental Duty of every citizen to protect and improve forests and wildlife and to have compassion for all living creatures. 
      • Article 21:
        • Due to the expansive interpretation taken by the courts, the rights of the animals are also protected under Article 21 of the Constitution. 
        • Every species has a right to life and security, in accordance with the law of the land, and this right is not merely limited to human beings but is expanded to include within its ambit animals and birds as well. 

    Key provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

    • About:
      • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (hereinafter PCA Act, 1960) is the first enacted law for safeguarding the rights and protecting the animals from pain and suffering inflicted by humans. 
    • Some of the main features of the Act are as follows:
      • Definition:
        • The Act has established the definition of animals to include any living creature other than human beings and different forms of animals. 
      • Offences & punishments:
        • In order to protect the animals from lifetime agony and pain, the Act has set forth punishments for offenders who cause unnecessary suffering and cruelty towards animals
        • The Act further discusses different forms of cruelty inflicted on animals, its exceptions and the process of killing a suffering animal, when cruelty has been imposed, to avoid any further suffering for that animal. 
      • Guidelines for experimenting on an animals:
        • The Act underlines the guidelines to be followed while experimenting on an animal for scientific purposes and exhibition of performing animals along with their offences.
      • Animal Welfare Board of India:
        • One of the features that the Act specifies is the establishment of the Animal Welfare Board of India (hereinafter AWBI).

    Key provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

    • About:
      • The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 aims to preserve the wildlife species of both fauna and flora and establishes reserved places for their survival. 
      • The Act also lays down restrictions on various animal species to be hunted down.
    • Some of the salient features with respect to safeguarding the interest of animals are:
      • Prohibition of hunting:
        • The Act prohibits the hunting of animals mentioned under Schedule I, II, III and IV.
      • Setting up of following boards:
        • National Board for Wildlife & State Board for Wildlife:
          • It is a statutory body established under the Act that is responsible for advising the government on wildlife conservation, reviewing and approving various projects relating to wildlife, promoting the conservation and development of wildlife. 
          • A separate State Board for Wildlife has also been directed to be set up in each state under the said Act.
        • Central Zoo Authority:
          • It is yet another body incorporated under the Act.
        • Wildlife Crime Control Bureau: 
          • It was constituted under the Act to fight the ever-growing crime rates against wildlife in the country

    Way Ahead

    • The increasing number of cases of cruelty against animals merely shows the insensitive yet gruesome nature of people. 
    • It is high time when we need to understand that the word is a linkage between many prevalent communities including animals. Without their existence, humans would cease to exist. 
    • Therefore, considering the substantial role played by animals in our lives, we need to sensitise those who wilfully hurt animals. 
    • Proper implementation of laws is the need of the hour in addition to instilling the compassionate feeling in an individual. 

    Source: IE