Millions of animals die in India due to abuse or torture, animal protection groups deplore: low penalties and low conviction rates

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The supreme court of India has asked central government to revise the prevention of cruelty to animals (Care and maintenance of case property animals) rules, 2017. The rules clearly explain and allows confiscation of animals of traders and transporters even before the owner founds guilty under the case. Supreme court asked the government either to change the rules or face the stay from the court.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 is an act to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and for that purpose to amend that law relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals. The act is for all kind of living creatures. Mentioned in the act, it shall be the duty of every person having the care or charge of any animal to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of such animal and to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary pain or suffering.

Briefly stated in the act about the kind of cruelty—

  • Beats, kicks, over-rides, over-loads or torture in any way possible.
  • Being the owner permits unfit animal to be so employed.
  • Willfully or unreasonably administers any injurious drug or injurious substance.
  • Carries any animal in such a manner which causes pain or unnecessary suffering to it.
  • Keeps or confines any animal in a cage or a space which is not sufficient for it in height, length or breadth.
    And many more like these which comes under cruelty according to the act and is considered as criminal activity if caught doing this.
  • Without reasonable cause, abandons any animal in circumstance which can make them suffer from starvation or thirst.
    • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals rules 2017 informed by the central government is unsustainable in law to the extent that it imposes ban of sale of cattle in animal cattle in animal markets for the purpose of slaughter.
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People for Animals” is one such animal welfare working in this sector to spread awareness about the law. It is an animal welfare organization in India and runs 35 shelters across the country for rescue and rehabilitation of injured, diseased, abandoned, orphaned animals. They also campaign for the welfare for animals. The welfare is headed by Maneka Gandhi, who is an Indian politician, animal rights activist and environmentalist, along with Director Kanika Dewan and Trustee Gauri Maulekhi.

Maneka Gandhi is a Chairperson of People for Animal. Photo: People for Animals/Facebook

While talking exclusively to Eat News, Gauri Maulekhi said, ”The prevention of cruelty to Animals Act was promulgated in 1960 and has not been amended since then. The amendment in the Act has been long overdue, as some of its provisions have become archaic.”

According to the reports, Supreme Court founds the rules contrary to section 29 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals act which says, only a person convicted of cruelty can lose his/her animal. “Section 29(2) of the Act provides for Judicial discretion in case the magistrate feels that if the victim animal is left in the custody of the accused/owner, it will be subject to more cruelty, the ownership may be revoked. This is a safeguard for the abuse victim, like in any other law for human rights”, said Maulekhi.

The petitioner pointed, these rules have encouraged “anti-social elements” and is causing polarization of society. But according to Gauri Maulekhi, the petitioner has financial interest in the trade of buffaloes. She said, “To maximize profits in trade, often, welfare of defenceless animals is compromised and exaggerated and outlandish submissions are put forth. Both the Act and the rules place the power in the hands of the Courts, so the question of anti-social elements taking matters into their own hands does not arise.”

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She further added, ”There are several Case property animals in all shelters. Only a Judicial magistrate can send animals to shelters and direct their discharge from there. Sadly, the conviction rate for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act is abysmally low. The cases go on for years and are on low priority by investigation officers, even more so if the animal has been rescued alive”.

No such statistics are available specifically of cruelty cases against animals in India but as per reports, every year millions of animals either dies due to cruelty or are tortured. Horses, elephants, cows, camels are seen in such conditions where despite of their health conditions, people make them work. Over-loads, over rides are some of the clear examples of such incidents. Gauri said, ”There are thousands of videos uploaded by children on Twitter recently, requesting the Prime Minister for amending the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to upgrade the penalty, which is currently Rs 50. A deadly combination of low penalty and poor conviction rate lends fertile breeding ground for crime against animals to boom. It is indeed unfortunate that the land of Ahimsa is failing in its duty to safeguard its most vulnerable citizens”.

No doubt there are lot of welfares and organizations working regionally and nationally for animals but still we need some strong and meaningful laws to help them live freely just like we, human beings does.

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Shefali Ranawat is an Eat News correspondent in India. She want to be the voice of people. Also, she aim to be a war correspondent.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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