Activists favour stricter punishment for harming animals

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US recently declared that cruelty to animals is a criminal offence. But in India, one gets away by paying a meagre penalty.

A man in Chennai recently threw a dog from the roof of a two-storey building. The Act was videographed and posted online by his friend. The men were let go after paying penalty of Rs 100 (Rs 50 each). The dog survived with a fractured leg.

Animal lovers are now demanding an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, to ensure stringent action against those harming animals.

Activists point out that most of the time, the police do not care. They are oblivious to the fact that FIRs can be registered and cognisable and non-cognisable cases can be booked over cruelty to animals.

Suparna Baksi Ganguly, co-founder and Trustee, Compassion Unlimited Plus Action and Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, said the proposal to amend PCA has been pending since 2011. Indian laws are losing relevance and need to be relooked. Global surveys show that animal abuse is directly linked to child and women abuse and violent crimes.

This year, FBI declared that it had reclassified animal abuse as a 'Group A' felony in its National Incident Based Reporting System. That means animal abuse will no longer be viewed leniently, but treated as a serious criminal offence like murder, arson and homicide.

Soumya Reddy, member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, said many attempts have been made in the past to strengthen the Act. As part of the online campaign titled 'No More 50,' many people have joined hands to put pressure on the government. The PCA is not just about cruelty, but also against animals being used for entertainment, performances; against keeping farm animals and using them for traditional and cultural practices.

Nuggehalli Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International India, said, "we have demanded an increase in penalty amount and that the offence be made non-bailable."

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