The fine is set to rise to up to Rs 6,000, from the meagre Rs 50 under current laws.
New Delhi: After three Supreme Court directions and campaigns across the country, the Modi government is finally set to amend the animal welfare laws, and increase the highest fine for animal cruelty from a meagre Rs 50 to up to Rs 6,000.
The environment ministry is in the process of preparing a draft amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, which currently stipulates a fine of no more than Rs 50 to anyone who metes out cruel treatment to animals, ThePrint has learnt. A cabinet note could soon be prepared in this regard.
The revision of the penalty is being done as part of the correction for inflation.
“The PCA has not been amended since 1960, and the penalty, which was a big amount back then, is now a joke,” a source in the know said. “At that time, Rs 50 was actually a deterrent but that’s not the case anymore.”
Constant prodding from Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has repeatedly asked the government to amend the Act so as to impose “adequate penalties and punishment” to cut down on incidents of animal cruelty.
In its judgment in the matter of Animal Welfare Board of India versus A. Nagaraja & Others in 2014, the top court said, “Parliament is expected to make proper amendment of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, to provide an effective deterrent to achieve the objective and purpose of the Act and for violations of Section 11, adequate penalties and punishments should be imposed.”
Section 11 of PCA stipulates a penalty of between Rs 10 and Rs 50 for any act of cruelty against animals, including beating, kicking, torturing, starving and mutilating the animal.
Urging the government to act on the court’s directions and impose “inflation-corrected penalties”, animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi wrote a letter to the secretary of the environment ministry, C.K. Mishra, in September this year. “Despite clear directions (from the court) there has been no proposal by the ministry for an amendment in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, with relation to increasing the penalty,” the letter said.
Outraged by the “anomaly” in the law, several MPs, including Shashi Tharoor, Poonam Mahajan, Baijayant ‘Jay’ Panda, Varun Gandhi and Meenakshi Lekhi, had started a campaign called “No more 50” back in 2016. The aim of the campaign was to press for stronger laws that do not allow perpetrators of crimes against animals to get away with a fine of merely Rs 50.
BJP MP Poonam Mahajan had also moved a private members bill in this regard in the same year.
Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it
India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.
But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.
ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.