On 15th April 2021 , Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) held its online stakeholder consultation on the proposed draft amendment to the outdated PCA (Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Over 250 people attended virtually and almost all were in complete agreement that the changes in both the quantum of fine and length of imprisonment needed the serious redrafting now being done. Some of these have been addressed in my recent column in The Logical Indian https://thelogicalindian.com/publicpolicy/pca-27878
There were some specific inputs on the Sections 11 and 38 to be made cognizable offences. Prominent activists like Ms Gauri Maulekhi, heads of HSI, FIAPO, PETA and others were unequivocal on their appreciation for this intervention and the overwhelming need to have this swiftly actioned. Dr Nandita Krishna talked about tying the fine amount to current inflation so that it remains relevant and reflective of present state of the economy. The urgent need for a State animal Welfare Board (SAWB) as the implementation platform for the amended PCA was specifically highlighted.
I also made a point that that the criticality of the police in ensuring successful implementation can NOT be overstated, and that more granularity and accuracy in defining cruelty would lead to less interpretation and better implementation. For example it is cruelty to tie an animal for a prolonged period but for a crime to be proved , 'prolonged' needs to be defined. I also stressed studies should be undertaken (aqs in the west) linking cruelty against animals to crimes against humans, particularly women and children - so that the lay public should relate to the tremendous impact that animal cruelty prevention will have on their own safety.
A new Section 11C which deals specifically with exceptions to absolve people of cruelty charges was discussed and it was requested to tighten the exceptions of 'self defence', 'accident', ' acts of God' etc so there were no loopholes left .
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We hope, as an evolved and compassionate country, this amendment is passed in parliament and we see a new dawn in justice and animal compassion in our country.