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Light penal measures in Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 have resulted in non-compliance

Considering the rather light punitive recommendations in the existing Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, Poonam Mahajan, a BJP MP from Mumbai North Central, has placed an amendment Bill—The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2016—in the Lok Sabha.

The purpose of these changes is noble. The Bill states that the objective for these changes was to make amends for the light punitive provisions in the original Act which resulted in non-compliance of the provisions of the existing Act.

The bill states: “The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 was enacted to provide for prevention of infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals. However, the same has not achieved its purpose owing to lesser penal provisions. The Act has failed to protect animals for more than decades now. Animal abusers have…

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Light penal measures in Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 have resulted in non-compliance

Considering the rather light punitive recommendations in the existing Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960, Poonam Mahajan, a BJP MP from Mumbai North Central, has placed an amendment Bill—The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2016—in the Lok Sabha.

The purpose of these changes is noble. The Bill states that the objective for these changes was to make amends for the light punitive provisions in the original Act which resulted in non-compliance of the provisions of the existing Act.

The bill states: “The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 was enacted to provide for prevention of infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals. However, the same has not achieved its purpose owing to lesser penal provisions. The Act has failed to protect animals for more than decades now. Animal abusers have continued to take advantage of the obsolete Act and continue to inflict unfathomable amount of cruelty on animals and remain unpunished.

Members of People for Animals give treatment to an injured dog at the PFA Hospital and Shelter Centre in Guwahati. Photo: UNI
Members of People for Animals give treatment to an injured dog at the PFA Hospital and Shelter Centre in Guwahati. Photo: UNI

The Bill has, as support, a Supreme Court directive of 2014 case— Animal Welfare Board of India vs A. Nagaraj (May 7, 2014)— where the court had observed: “Parliament is expected to make proper amendment of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 to provide an effective deterrent to achieve the object and purpose of the Act and for violation of Section 11, adequate penalties and punishments should be imposed. Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many of the countries around the world, so as to protect their dignity and honour.”

Penal provisions in the Bill include much higher financial penalties, as well as jail terms extending up to six months on second offences so that the provisions act as deterrents.

An interesting inclusion in the Bill is a penalty for using injections, medication and other methods to force increased milk production from cattle, especially milch cows. It is a known fact that milk production can be increased through methods known as phooka or doom dev or by injecting any substance or oxytocin. While this does provide more milk, it harms the health and well being of the cattle.

The following are some of the changes that the Bill proposes to incorporate into the Act of 1960. The original provisions are given before to provide a backdrop to the changes that are being proposed.

Section 11

As per the existing Act.

(1) If any person (a) beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering or causes, or being the owner permits, any animal to be so treated; or… (o) promotes or takes part in any shooting match or competition wherein animals are released from captivity for the purpose of such shooting: he shall be punishable… in the case of a first offence, with fine which shall not be less than ten rupees but which may extend to fifty rupees and in the case of a second or subsequent offence committed within three years of the previous offence, with fine which shall not be less than twenty-five rupees but which may extend, to one hundred rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend, to three months, or with both.

As amended

In sub-section (1) of the existing Act, for the words “he shall be punishable, in the case of a first offence, with fine which shall not be less than ten rupees but which may extend to fifty rupees, and in the case of a second or subsequent offence committed within three years of the previous offence, with fine which shall not be less than twenty-five rupees but which may extend to one hundred rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with both.”, the words “he shall be punishable, in the case of a first offence, with fine which shall not be less than three thousand rupees but which may extend to five thousand rupees, and in the case of a second or subsequent offence committed within three years of the previous offence, with fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees but which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with both.” shall be substituted.

Section 12

As per the existing Act

If any persons upon any cow or other milch animal the operation called practising phooka or doom dev or any other operation (including injection of any or doom dev substance) to improve lactation which is injurious to the health of the animal or permits such operation being performed upon any such animal in his possession or under his control, he shall be punishable with fine which may extend to one thousand rupees, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with both, and the animal on which the operation was performed shall be forfeited to the Government.

As amended

The entire section of the existing act will be substituted with the following: “If any person performs upon any cow or other milch animal the operation called phooka or doom dev or any other operation (including injection of any substance or oxytocin) to improve lactation which is injurious to the health of the animal or permits such operation being performed upon any such animal in his possession or under his control, he shall be punishable with fine which shall not be less than twenty thousand rupees but which may extend to fifty thousand rupees, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to four years, or with both, and the animal on which the operation was performed shall be forfeited to the Government.”

Section 20

As per the existing Act.

If any person (a) contravenes any order made by the Committee under Section 19; or (b) commits a breach of any condition imposed by the Committee under that section: he shall be punishable with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees, and, when the contravention or breach of condition has taken place in any institution the person in charge of the institution shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be punishable accordingly.

As amended

In this Section for the words “which may extend to two hundred rupees”, the words “which shall not be less than ten thousand rupees but which may extend to twenty thousand rupees” shall be substituted.

Section 26

As per the existing Act.

If any person (a) not being registered under this chapter, exhibits or trains any performing animal; or (b) being registered under the Act, exhibits or trains any performing animal with respect to which or in a manner with respect to which, he is not registered; or (c) exhibits or trains as a performing animal, any animal which is not to be used for the purpose by reason of a notification issued under clause (ii) of Section 22; or (d) obstructs or wilfully delays any person or police officer referred to in Section 25 in the exercise of powers under this Act as to entry and inspection; or (e) conceals any animal with a view to avoiding such inspection: or treating animals cruelly; or (f) being a person registered under this Act, on being duly required in pursuance of this Act to produce his certificate under this Act, fails without reasonable excuse so to do; or (g) applies to be registered under this Act when not entitled to be so registered, he shall be punishable on conviction with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees or with imprisonment which may extend to three months, or with both.

As amended.

In this Section, for the words “he shall be punishable on conviction with fine which may extend to five hundred rupees, or with imprisonment which may extend to three months, or with both”, the words “he shall be punishable on conviction with fine which shall not be less than twenty thousand rupees but which may extend to fifty thousand rupees, or with imprisonment which may extend to six months, or with both” shall be substituted.

Section 31

As per existing Act.

Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, (5 of 1898) an offence punishable under clause (1) or clause (n) or clause (o) of sub-section (1) of Section 11 or under Section 12 shall be a cognizable offence within the meaning of that code.

As amended

The following Section shall be substituted as: “Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, any offence punishable under this Act shall be a cognizable offence within the meaning of that Code.”

Section 38

As per existing Act.

(3) If any person contravenes, or abets the contravention of, any rules made under this section, he shall be punishable with fine which may extend to one hundred rupees, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with both.

As amended.

Sub-section (3) of this section shall be substituted as follows: ‘‘If any person contravenes, or abets the contravention of, any rules made under this section, he shall be punishable with fine which shall not be less than ten thousand rupees but which may extend to fifty thousand rupees, or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with both.’’

The Bill will go through debates in the lower house before moving to the upper house and then to the President for his signature.

India Legal Bureau

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