Govt to bring law to regulate experiments on animals

The proposed Animal Welfare Act, 2011 provides for setting up of a Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals to prevent persons or institutions from performing experiments on animals.

According to the draft bill, the committee will be authorised to take all measures necessary to ensure that animals are not subjected to unnecessary trauma, pain or suffering before, during or after the performance of experiments on them.

The committee, consisting of a number of officials and non-officials and representatives from Central Zoo Authority, the Veterinary Council of India and members of animal welfare organisations, will be authorised to ensure that the experiments are performed with "due care and humanity". If Parliament passes the proposed bill, those who commit cruelty towards animals will face punishments including imprisonment and heavy penalties.

The proposed bill, which prevents repetitive experiments on animals, empowers the committee to ask the institutions to maintain records of various experiments performed by it and to maintain details of various available non-animal alternatives.

In cases where experiments are performed in any institution, the responsibility for such experiments would be on the person in charge of the institution, it says. The Hollywood actress, who reportedly watched a secret video showing that many of the monkeys, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs and other animals have been languishing at the AIIMS, had written a letter to the institute director asking him to release them to a sanctuary.

They are allegedly being caged for use in trials for development of new drugs. The draft bill specifies that experiments involving operations are performed under the influence of "an anaesthetic of sufficient potency" to prevent the animals from feeling pain.

According to it, hospitals, including undergraduate medical colleges, pharmacy colleges, zoology and other degree and diploma colleges and universities should avoid experiments and dissections of animals in their institutes. The ministry has invited comments on the draft legislation, which will replace the existing Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, by March 20.

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