By Ananya Tripathi
With more than 60 amendments, the draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill 2022 was released on 25th of November. It proposes to bring amendments to the Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The bill released by Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying was open to public consultation till 7th of December.
After 6 decades since it was passed, will the act finally be amended? What are the proposed changes? What new sections are being added? The Bill suggests a total of 61 amendments which includes insertion of a new Section 3A that talks about five kinds of freedoms available to animals. It has also added “bestiality” under the category of “Gruesome Crime.” The definition of “community animals” is also included. Apart from this, the penalty for the commission of a crime against an animal has been increased both in terms of fine and imprisonment.
Here are some of the important changes in detail:-
According to the new section 3A it is the duty of a person who is in charge of an animal or who takes care of an animal, to ensure that his animal has the following five types of freedom –
- “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.
- Freedom from fear and distress.”
It states the duty of local government and gram panchayat to ensure that these five kinds of freedom are also available to community animals. According to section 2 (o), a community animal is defined as “any animal born in a community for which no ownership has been claimed by any individual or an organization, excluding wild animals as defined under the wildlife Protection Act, 1972.”
The proposed bill has also added bestiality under gruesome cruelty. Here gruesome cruelty means an act that can cause “extreme pain and suffering” to the animals which is likely result in a lifetime disability. Any act towards an animal which can cause permanent physical damage, make the animal useless or can cause the death , comes under the ambit of gruesome cruelty. Further section 11 (A) defines gruesome cruelty in detail.
According to the PCA Act of 1960 , the fine for first time offenders is 10-50 rupees while the maximum can be of 3 months. For an act of gruesome cruelty, the bill suggests a fine of 50,000 to 75,000 or an imprisonment of 1 to 3 years of both. It also suggests an imprisonment of maximum 5 years for killing an animal.
Is this the first time such amendment has been proposed? After the SC’s call for amendment in “Animal Welfare Board of India v. A Nagaraja & Others”, a bill was proposed both in 2020 and 2021 for amending the said act. The current bill of 2022 is yet to be passed in both the houses.