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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : Preventing animal cruelty is a duty of the state               

                

 

Source: The Hindu

 

  • Prelims: Article 14, Article 21, Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), 1960 etc
  • Mains GS Paper I and II: Government policies and interventions for development of various sectors and issues arising out of them etc

 

ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS

  • Amendments to the Croatian Penal Code, enhanced the punishment for causing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals, and for killing or severely abusing animals.

 

INSIGHTS ON THE ISSUE

Context

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960:

●      It discusses different forms of cruelty, exceptions, and killing of a suffering animal in case any cruelty has been committed against it, so as to relieve it from further suffering.

●      The legislative intent of the Act is to “prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals”.

●      The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) was established in 1962 under Section 4 of the Act.

●      This Act provides for punishment for causing unnecessary cruelty and suffering to animals.

●      The Act defines animals and different forms of animals.

○      In the case of a first offense, fine which shall not be less than ten rupees but which may extend to fifty rupees.

○      In the case of a second or subsequent offense committed within three years of the previous offense, fine which shall not be less than twenty-five rupees

■      which may extend to one hundred rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with both.

●      It provides the guidelines relating to experimentation on animals for scientific purposes.

●      The Act enshrines the provisions relating to the exhibition of the performing animals, and offenses committed against the performing animals.

 

Goals for Punishing someone for committing a crime:

  • Retribution (punishment imposed to avenge the crime committed)
  • Deterrence (punishment imposed to deter the perpetrator and the general public against committing such crimes in the future)
  • Reformation or rehabilitation (punishment imposed to reform and shape the future behavior of the perpetrator).

 

Issues with Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act (1960):

  • Poor enforcement of the law and the meager penalties it prescribes
  • The PCA Act seems woefully ineffective.
  • Most of the offenses under the Act are bailable (the accused can seek bail from the police as a matter of right)
    • non-cognisable (which means that the police can neither register a first information report nor investigate or effect arrest without the express permission of or directions from a competent court).
  • The amounts prescribed as fines under the PCA Act are the same as the ones prescribed in its predecessor, the PCA Act 1890.
    • The fines are insignificant (as low as ₹10 in many cases) as they have not undergone revision in over 130 years.
  • The law is worded in such a manner that the court dealing with the issue has the discretion to choose between imposing imprisonment or imposing a fine on the accused.
    • This allows perpetrators of animal cruelty to get away with the most brutal forms of animal cruelty by just paying a fine in most cases.
  • The law itself does not contain any provision for ‘community service’ such as prescribing volunteering at an animal shelter as a form of punishment, that could potentially reform the perpetrators.

The Draft Bill(Amendments to the 1960 Act):

  • Inclusion of the five fundamental freedoms for animals
  • Enhancement of the punishments and the amounts of money to be paid as fines for various offenses
    • Addition of new cognisable offenses.
  • The draft Bill continues to provide for imprisonment and fines as two options available to a court dealing with a case of animal cruelty.

Animal welfare in Constitution:

  • Fundamental rights: They are explicitly conferred on animals.
  • Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty): They are bestowed on persons.
    • Persons” means human beings or associations of human beings, such as corporations, partnerships, trusts etc
  • Article 48: To prohibit the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle and to improve their breed.
  • Article 48A: To protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wildlife.
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), 1960: It criminalizes several types of actions that cause cruelty to animals.
    • It exempts use of animals for experiments with a view to securing medical advancement.

 

Way Forward

  • Even if the draft Bill becomes law: It will still be possible for perpetrators to just pay the paltry fine and avoid imprisonment for committing certain acts of extreme cruelty.
  • With its limitations, the enactment of the Draft Bill could be a huge step forward for animal law in India.
  • Rukmini Devi Arundale in Parliament,1954(while moving a Private Member’s Bill to replace the archaic PCA Act (1890):“India must set a great example to all countries in the world.
    • We must set an example not because I think we are superior but because we have spoken about ahimsa far more than any other country
    • So the more we talk about it, the greater the responsibility to put into practice.
  • The new government should accept this responsibility so that the amendments to the PCA Act (1960) will finally see the light of day.
  • Right in Article 21 is conferred only on human beings: But the expanded meaning of the word “life” now included a right against disturbance to the basic environment ought to mean that animal life must also be treated with “intrinsic worth, honor and dignity.
  • Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan: No doubt the constitution safeguards only the rights of human beings, but the word “life” is today understood to mean something more than mere existence; it means an existence that allows us, among other things, to live in a clean and healthy environment.

 

QUESTION FOR PRACTICE

‘Constitutional Morality’ is rooted in the Constitution itself and is founded on its essential facets. Explain the doctrine of ‘Constitutional Morality’ with the help of relevant judicial decisions.(UPSC 2021) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)

 

Editorial Analysis – 2 May 2024