Hyderabad: As per Article 51A(g) of the Constitution of India it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to show compassion towards all living things.
Violators of animal welfare rules in India, however, get away cheap, with a fine of just Rs 10 extending to Rs 50 as per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 if they are first time offender like Gautam Sudarshan and Ashish Pal, medical students from Chennai who recently threw a dog from the terrace of a building for fun and recorded a video.
If they commit the crime again in the next three years, they can be fined a maximum of only Rs 100 or three months’ imprisonment. Chicken being transported upside down on scooters, cattle crammed into trucks — giving rise to the infamous term “cattle class” — cock fights organised by lawmakers themselves, zoo animals being harassed by visitors, pets abandoned by owners and cases of street animals being maimed are all illegal as per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and other laws. But convictions in such cases are rare.
This year in May, to a question asked by two MPs in Parliament about statistics on animal cruelty in last three years, the ministry of environment provided data of just nine states, excluding AP and Telangana. The figure was 24,353 cases in which 35,915 persons were convicted.
Member of Animal Welfare Board of India N.G. Jayasimha said, “It is cheaper to pay the fine for violation of cruelty rules than travelling to the court. Activists have met have been asking for the passing of the draft Animal Welfare Act but to no avail.”
Mr Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International-India, added, “Even when police nab culprits and activists secure punishment, they watch the culprits get away by paying Rs 50 as penalty. AWBI itself was sidelined when Mr Prakash Javadekar was minister for environment as last year just Rs 8 crore was given to AWBI, which once used to get around Rs 50-80 crore. Hopefully, the new environment minister will help pas the draft bill.”
The Centre is sitting on the draft Animal Welfare Act proposed first in 2011 and revised in 2013 which increases penalty for first time offences to Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 or imprisonment up to two years. For subsequent offences, the fine would be up to Rs 1 one lakh or with jail for three years. It gives more power to the AWBI, makes all offences under the Act cognizable etc.