Reforming the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960
What is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act?
- It was proposed by acclaimed dancer Rukminidevi Arundale in 1960.
- This act provides for punishment for causing unnecessary cruelty and suffering to animals. It :
- Defines animals and different forms of animals.
- Enshrines the provisions relating to the establishment of an animal welfare board, its constitution, powers, and functions.
- 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.
- Provides the guidelines relating to experimentation on animals for scientific purposes.
- Enshrines the provisions relating to the exhibition of the performing animals, and offences committed against the performing animals.
- Provides for the limitation period of 3 months beyond which no prosecution shall lie for any offences under this Act.
- It was amended in 1982 to add few clauses.
What are the problems with the existing law?
- The PCA Act suffers from ambiguity in definition. The law was enacted to “prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals”. The term UNNECESSARY pain has not been defined in the law. This leaves crucial questions of animal welfare to the subjective moral compass of judges.
- This act punishes the most serious forms of animal violence with a very small fine of ₹50.
- There is no grading of the offences according to their severity. Severe offences are treated on a par with less severe ones.
- At present, a majority of the offences under the Act are non-cognisable. The more severe offences must be made cognisable (an offence, where a police officer can arrest without a warrant) and non-bailable.
- Though Section 11 of the PCA act criminalises several forms of animal cruelty, the sub-section (3) carves out exceptions for animal husbandry procedures such as dehorning, castration, nose-roping, and branding.
- Though these exceptions are present, there have been no started guidelines for these procedures which allows people to resort cruel methods.
- Under the Fundamental Duties of the Constitution, it calls all the citizens to “have compassion for living creatures”. Hence, the PCA act should be amended to have objectivity and protect vulnerable animals.
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