Cases of animal abuse continue unabated in India, with many going unreported. If you ask the lay Indian, he/she may not even be aware that animals have basic rights and that it is, for instance, wrong to pelt stones at a stray dog. A big reason for this is the petty fine attached to such a crime — a mere Rs 50, as mentioned in the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960. While the amount was considerable back when the law was drafted, it is a laughable amount today. For years, activists have been demanding that the penalty is increased so that there is #NoMore50. Now, there seems to be light at the far end of the tunnel, as the government, after considerable pressure from the Supreme Court, is considering hiking the penalty 120 times, to Rs 6,000.
‘HOPE REVISION HAPPENS BEFORE GENERAL POLLS IN 2019’
“Since we started the #NoMore50 campaign in 2016, there have been a series of comments from the government on increasing the fine. The fine of Rs 50 was ridiculous; Rs 6,000 is a respectable amount. Hopefully, this will see the light of day before the next elections. Of course, it needs to be tabled in parliament for it to be passed, but there is a ray of light and hope that there will be a revision,” says Alokparna Sengupta, Deputy Director, Humane Society of India.
MAGISTRATES NEED TO BE SENSITISED
While penalty is a deterrent to a crime, it is only so to some extent. Activists, therefore, stress that the sensitisation of police and magistrates is what will keep animal abuse at bay. “We have been working at training the police and sensitising district-level magistrates, who are the first to see cases. They need to take cases seriously so that they don’t stretch on for years. Swift punishment and the surety of punishment is the biggest deterrent to any crime. If people know they will be punished for sure, then they will think twice before abusing an animal. Unfortunately, this is missing,” adds Alokparna.