In the land of Bharat, where people worship and have been worshipping animals as spiritual entities for centuries, it is treacherous to comprehend and swallow the fact that some of us are trashing, humiliating, and prostrating them for no more than to fulfil our lust for greed. What is this sadistically barbaric behavior towards innocent beings living peacefully in society? How are we stooping to the level so plebian that the crime of slaughter is pleasing our needs? Is all the humanity that ever existed left for good? These are the questions that burn my soul and light up the rage of fury. It is the Fundamental Duty of every citizen of India to have compassion, sensitivity, and solicitude for all living creatures.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) ACT, 1960
The PCA Act was enacted with the goal of preventing the infliction of unrequired and unjustified pain on animals. The PCA Act, 1960 majorly came into force as a result of the efforts of a staunch and stalwart lady, Rukmini Devi Arundale, who emphasized replacing the then Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1890 to overcome its inadequacies. The act includes the provisions relating to the establishment of an animal welfare board to inspect malicious and evil actions committed against any animal. Section 11(1) (a) to (o) of the PCA, 1960 enumerates different forms of ghastly crimes inflicted on animals. Section 11(1) (a) of the PCA, 1960 lists several offences as well as prescribes penalties for the same. It proffers beating, kicking, over-riding, over-driving, over-loading, torturing, causing unnecessary pain or suffering on any animal punishable.
The other areas covered in Section 11(1) talks about offences such as willful administration of drugs or injurious substances in animals, neglect on the owner’s part to take care of their pets, unreasonable chaining or tethering upon any animal, mutilation, and killing of any animal using strychnine injections, unlawful confinement of animals, and using animals as mere objects for performances, entertainment and organizing events, etc. In case of the first offence, the offender will have to pay the fine which shall extend to fifty rupees, and in the case of any subsequent offence committed within the time frame of three years of the previous offence, he/she shall be fined with not 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. Along with that, in case of the second offence, the offender’s vehicle will be confiscated and he will never be allowed to keep an animal again. The Act sets the limitation period of 3 months beyond which no prosecution shall lie for any of the offences listed under this Act.
Section 34 of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 the police officer who is above the rank of constable and provides him/her the general power of seizure for examination. If the police officer comes to know of any offence under PCA Act committed or is been committed on any animal, he/she can seize the animal and produce the same for examination by the nearest magistrate or by the Veterinary OfficerSection 35 states, animals have to be produced before the magistrate. Animals are to be treated with care in an infirmary until they are fit for discharge and cannot be released from such places unless the veterinary officer issues the certificate of its fitness for discharge.
Loopholes in the Prevention Of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
PCA Act, 1860 mandates a decent standard for animal housing; still, it is disheartening to see the conditions of oviparous animals across the country. These egg-laying hens exhaust their entire lives standing on hard-wire meshes with negligent breathing space to spread out their wings. Later, they are bashfully thrown into slaughterhouses as if they aren’t sentient enough to not feel infliction of pain and torment.
- Section 11 considers all offences with the same gravity. It does not differentiate between severe and less severe offences. The Majority of the offences are dealt with in similar nature which results in offenders not getting charged for heinous offences with utmost jurisdiction.
- Another point to be taken into consideration about the PCA Act, 1960 is that a major part of the offences is non-cognizable, meaning that the police cannot investigate or arrest the accused without a warrant.
- The PCA Act, 1960 is a mockery of the lives of animals. With a derisory fine under the range of 100 rupees, we made sure that the lives of these defenseless beings are no worth in our eyes.
- The definition is ambiguous and unclear on certain aspects, such as “prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals”. Firstly, this phrase is oblivious in the entire act. Secondly, the term “unnecessary” is purely subjective and can be deciphered differently by everyone. Thirdly, “pain or suffering” should be edited into, “pain and suffering” mainly as per the reason that both pain and suffering are interdependent.
- The PCA Act, 1960 lists numerable exceptions which ultimately demeans the value of protection available to animals. Section 11(3) provides exceptions for animal husbandry procedures such as dehorning, castration, nose-roping, and branding.
Way Forward: Updated Law
The PCA Act, 1960 is an archaic law and demands major amendments to make sure that animal isn’t exploited and bashed at the hands of merciless, inhuman homo-sapiens:
- It is of utmost importance to raise the fine and penalty charges on the offenders. A minimum of 10,000 rupees needs to be set as a limit on mildly severe offences. The range of fines should increase according to the gravity of crime inflicted upon an animal. The imprisonment period should as well be extended to not more than a minimum of 5 years. Furthermore, the more grievous offences must be made cognizable and non-bailable.
- Two large batches of rules under the PCA Act, 1960 passed in the past 2 decades, the first in 2001 and the second in 2017-18. In 2001, rules on performing animals in circuses and movies, slaughterhouses, animal birth control, and the setting up of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals (SPCA) were passed. In 2017-18, rules on the regulation of shops that sell animals as pets, dog breeders, and livestock markets were passed. These rules, however, aren’t majorly active and are neglected hindsight. For animal welfare, these rules and regulations need to be backed by stringent punishments under the IPC, 1860.
- Section 34, that deals with treating injured animals with utmost care is ignored and neglected casually. The Police Officers take no caution in presenting the innocent injured species before the veterinary doctor. Moreover, these hired government veterinary doctors are selfish humans who do not show any sensitivity in treating and curing the animals.
- There is a sine qua non for the establishment of a whole new ministry working specifically and solely for Animal Welfare and not just a board, comprising of ministers from various ministries working in the same regard. Animal Welfare State Boards should be set up in every state to manage the ordeals and issues on the respective state.
- One of the major requirements has to be the monetary aspect. Organizations, Boards, Trusts and Ministries working in the field of animal welfare should be given a handful amount out of the financial budget to work efficiently and smoothly.
It is true that PCA Act, 1960 did bring a lot of changes for the better as well as face a lot of criticism and backlash owing to the loopholes and ambiguous discrepancies. It is vital on our part as civilized humans to be utmost sensitive while treating animals. Worshipping animals on one hand and killing them on the other depicts the hypocrisy we reflect. The laws and regulations are calling out for amendments to make it a better, safer, and preferable place not only for one kind of species but for every single one.
Gopalkrishna Gandhi, The woman who said no: How Rukmini Devi chose dance over the presidency, HINDUSTAN TIMES, March 4, 2016, available at http://www.hindustantimes.com/columns/the-woman-who-said-no-how-rukmini-devi-chose-dance-over-presidency/story-5OKAXlR0N46d8QfiUX1QWI.html
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Section 11(1)(a)
 PCA, 1960 section 11(3)
This article is authored by Tanisha Gautam, Student at Institute of Law, Nirma University, Ahmedabad.
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