Amendments proposed include prohibiting caging of birds, recognising animals as ‘living’ beings and not objects
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India has submitted its proposals for the revision of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, to the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).
Amendments proposed include replacing the pronoun “it” with “he” or “she” when referring to animals as a first step towards recognising them as living, feeling beings, and not objects. PETA India wants the Act to be, at minimum, less speciesist (i.e. less exploitative of animals) than it is now.
Other recommendations include increasing penalties for cruelty to animals to a range between ₹25,000 and ₹1 lakh and up to five years of imprisonment. For a cognisable offence or a second non-cognisable offence, the group also recommends seizure of the person’s animal and preventing him or her from owning or working with any other animal.
PETA India suggests prohibiting the caging of aerial birds, stopping the use of animals in circuses, eliminating all dissection of animals for teaching and training students, ending the use of captive elephants for performances, banning the sacrifice of animals and expanding consideration of types of cruelty to include sexual abuse of animals, among other reforms to prevent pain and suffering.
“This 60-year-old legislation is being considered for revision for the first time, and it must reflect modern society’s concern for animals,” says PETA India CEO Dr. Manilal Valliyate. “It’s vital that efforts be made to update the Act to match today’s scientific knowledge that animals are thinking, feeling beings who do not want to be caged, chained, harmed or killed.”
On 15 April, the AWBI organised an online stakeholder consultation meeting inviting suggestions regarding amendment of the PCA Act in recognition of the increasing incidences of cruelty towards animals and the demand from society to enhance the meagre penalties for animal abuse, which include a maximum fine of ₹50 for a first offence.
Many members of the Parliament have requested amendments in this regard, two private bills were introduced in the Parliament and the Supreme Court of India has observed the necessity of an amendment as well. As presented by the AWBI, the government’s major considerations for amendments presently include only determination of penalties, cognisability of offences and the establishment of state animal welfare boards as per the direction of the Supreme Court. The AWBI had advised the stakeholders to submit their comments, if any, by April 25.