Rising Instances of Animal Abuse in India
Updated: Nov 8, 2020
Aditya Anamey Das
October 26, 2020
For a country known for worshipping its animals, India has been failing drastically to ensure their safety. Reports of animals being beaten up or sexually abused at the hands of predators flock the newspapers by the hundreds. From elephants in Rajasthan to the domestic household dogs in Pune, it seems like no mammal is truly safe in this country. Is this only to be attributed to human evil or is there a much more nuanced and complicated reason behind it? Why are we failing the animals as a country?
The heinous murder of the pregnant elephant in Palakkad in June was a tight slap to the conscience of the nation. It ignited debates about the current state of animals in the country and the possible reasons behind such incidents of cruelty. A lot of raised eyebrows fell on the animal cruelty laws in India, with cries of inadequate punishment bracing the streets.
India got it's most important animal cruelty prevention law in 1960, and that law has not been amended even once in the past six decades. Yes, that's right, we still follow the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA) that was legislated in 1960. Under PCA, first-time animal offenders were liable to pay a fine of under 50 Rupees. Second-time offenders had to pay somewhere between 25 to 100 Rupees, with a possibility of up to three months of imprisonment.
Those figures have stayed the same over the past 60 years without adjusting for inflation. On top of that, animal cruelty is not even considered a cognisable offence, meaning a police officer can not investigate an incident of animal cruelty without a direct court order.
In 2016, four people held for beating a cow to its death were charged 4,000 rupees for bail. Later, the local court found them guilty and fined them 50 rupees each. They were reimbursed of their remaining 3,800 rupees. It is instances like these that convey our clear lack of effort to keep our animals safe.
Given the current sorry state of animal abuse prevention laws in the nation, is it really a wonder that we had over 24,000 registered cases of animal abuse under PCA between 2012 and 2016. Mumbai alone recorded 19,028 cases of animal cruelty in the last five years as per data compiled by Bombay Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA). We have consistently failed as a nation to understand the gravity of the situation. It’s not just a fight for animal welfare anymore, it’s now a fight for whatever humanity is left in us.
A draft bill seeking to make amendments to the PCA has been circulating around the parliament for more than a decade now. However, this might not take too long as the Union Ministry of Animal Husbandry and Dairying secretary, Atul Chaturvedi, said that his ministry is “actively examining the issue related to increasing the existing penalties for cruelty to animals by amending the existing law” in an interview with Times of India. We can only hope that this bill translates into reality as soon as possible. The hour is dire, and something needs to be done fast.
Edited by Shreya Gupta