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Animal Protection UPSC NOTE

 Preventing animal cruelty

  • Over the years, much has been discussed about the inadequacies in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act (1960), the primary piece of legislation that criminalises various forms of cruelty towards animals in the country. 

  • Poor enforcement of this law and the meagre penalties it prescribes are often cited as reasons for its failure to achieve its main objective of preventing cruelty to animals. 

  • While this is true, there is more to this issue than meets the eye. 

  • When looked at through the lens of theories of punishment, the PCA Act seems woefully ineffective.

Punishment

  • According to the various theories of punishment, punishing someone for committing a crime could have three main goals

    • retribution (punishment imposed to avenge the crime committed); 

    • deterrence (punishment imposed to deter the perpetrator and the general public against committing such crimes in the future), 

    • reformation or rehabilitation (punishment imposed to reform and shape the future behaviour of the perpetrator)

Incompetent law

  • In its present form, the PCA Act fails to achieve all of these. 

  • First, most of the offences under the Act are bailable (the accused can seek bail from the police as a matter of right) and non-cognisable (which means that the police can neither register a first information report nor investigate or effect arrest without the express permission of or directions from a competent court). 

  • Second, the amounts prescribed as fines under the PCA Act are the same as the ones prescribed in its predecessor, the PCA Act 1890. 

  • This means that the fines are insignificant (as low as ₹10 in many cases) as they have not undergone revision in over 130 years

  • Third, the law is worded in such a manner that the court dealing with the issue has the discretion to choose between imposing imprisonment or imposing a fine on the accused

  • This allows perpetrators of animal cruelty to get away with the most brutal forms of animal cruelty by just paying a fine in most cases. 

  • Finally, the law itself does not contain any provision for ‘community service’ such as prescribing volunteering at an animal shelter as a form of punishment, that could potentially reform the perpetrators. 

  • These shortcomings contribute towards making the PCA Act ineffective in punishing the crimes of animal cruelty.


New Bill

  • In November 2022, the Draft PCA (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was published by the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying for public comments. 

  • Despite widespread public support for the Draft Bill, it was not tabled in Parliament. 

  • The Draft Bill includes significant amendments to the 1960 Act such as the inclusion of the five fundamental freedoms for animals, enhancement of the punishments and the amounts of money to be paid as fines for various offences, and addition of new cognisable offences. 

Limitations

  • While it is certainly a major improvement over the present law, for certain offences such as gruesome cruelty and the killing of an animal, the draft Bill continues to provide for imprisonment and fines as two options available to a court dealing with a case of animal cruelty. 

  • Therefore, even if the draft Bill someday becomes law, it will still be possible for perpetrators to just pay the paltry fine and avoid imprisonment for committing certain acts of extreme cruelty

Global Trend

  • Countries across the world are reforming their animal cruelty laws and enhancing punishments for animal cruelty. 

  • Recently, Croatia imposed stricter penalties for acts of cruelty, especially the abandonment of domestic pets. 

  • Amendments to the Croatian Penal Code enhance the punishment for causing unnecessary pain or suffering to animals, and for killing or severely abusing animals.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Animal Protection UPSC NOTE
Animal Protection UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
https://www.learnerz.in/2024/05/animal-protection-upsc-note.html
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