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Objections to the Draft Animal Welfare Act 2011

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Someone mailed in a detailed objections the draft Animal Welfare Act. The draft itself is available here (careful, big PDF) on the MoEF website, and apparently the ministry is taking in suggestions online via this email id - animalwelfareact2011 [at] gmail.com.

Here it goes, in full:

Objections to the Draft Animal Welfare Act 2011

Although kindness for animals is close to every human heart and cruelty to animals cannot be condoned by any sensible person , this draft has more to it than it's innocent looking intensions . It implies that one would be found guilty till proved innocent harming an animal even in self defense.

Primarily drafted to over rule all existing laws namely, Prevention of cruelty Act , Police acts and Municipal acts existing in the country . It is being pushed by an influential  parliamentarian leader ( no prizes for guessing who ) with arm twisting of the MOE  mainly because there is a petition in the Supreme court challenging the Animal birth control (ABC) Rules 2001 . Hence the urgently to get it passed.

My views and that of very many others here are that this is a hastily drafted new Act containing dangerous, communally inflammatory and probably unconstitutional provisions. It is essentially an attempt to rewrite the well-tested Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 (PCA Act) incidentally authored by danseuse and animal lover, Rukmini Devi Arundalewritten  amended by Act 26 of  1982, which is sought to be needlessly replaced by rewriting it as a proposed new Animal Welfare Act 2011 (AWA) now being circulated for public comments till 20th March 2011.

Most of its objectives can be achieved through thoughtful Amendments to the existing PCA Act itself under which we have been functioning for 51 years.

I propose to you in the strongest terms that this draft AWAct be entirely withdrawn and replaced, as and where necessary, by instead issuing for comments a Draft Second Amendment to the PCA Act 1960.

I have made clause-by-clause comparisons of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and the proposed Animal Welfare Act 2011 which show how simple it is to amend the PCA Act. I will gladly send this to you on request.

My key objections to the AWA draft are that it is :

1, Anti-religious: AWA OMITS Section 28 of the 51-year-old PCA Act which reads: 28. Saving as respects manner of killing prescribed by religion: Nothing contained in this Act shall render it an offence to kill any animal in a manner required by the religion of any community. [This omission would deprive Muslims, Sikhs and Jews their historic right to Halal, Jutka and Kosher slaughter].

2, Anti-human : The most dangerous aspects of the draft AWAct are its interference with the control of rabies caused by the incredible increase in the number of stray dogs, plus increasing urbanization. AWA Omits PCA Act S. 9 The Functions of the Board [28-member Animal Board] shall be & (f) to take all such steps as the Board may think fit to ensure that unwanted animals are destroyed by local authorities, whenever it is necessary to do so, either instantaneously or after being rendered insensible to pain or suffering.
India shamefully has 50% of the whole worlds dog-bite cases, which always affect our poorest and weakest, infants and elders, and also livestock around cities.

Our 25 million stray dogs cause 17 Million dog bites a year (one every two seconds!) and 25,000 horrible agonizing deaths from rabies annually (one every half-hour!).

India loses 38 Million Man-Days a year to dog-bites, for which treatment costs Rs 2 Billion a year, largely borne by the victims, not the Government. Only 3 Million of the 17 Million bitten victims get anti-rabies vaccination. Half the victims are children, who are now regularly mauled to death, mutilated, crippled or blinded. [Ref: Assessing Burden of Rabies in India: WHO Sponsored National Multicentric Rabies Survey, 2003]

3, Anti-Animal : Unvaccinated stray dogs also die agonizingly of rabies, far more cruel than anything humans can do to them. It is in their own interest to control the population of unwanted dogs. AWA also Omits in S. 11 (Treating animals cruelly) (3) Nothing in this act shall apply to &  (b) the destruction of stray dogs in lethal chambers &  (c ) & under the authority of any law for the time being in force.
AWA also Omits the Boards duties in S 9 (d) to advise .. improvements in the design of vehicles so as to lessen the burden on draught animals.

4, Anti-Health and Science : AWA Omits Sec 14 Experiments on animals : Nothing contained in this [PCA 1960] Act shall render unlawful the performance of experiments & on animals for the purpose of advancement by new discovery&  of knowledge which will be useful for saving or for prolonging life or alleviating suffering or for combating any disease, whether of human beings, animals or plants. Besides arbitrary powers to a Committee to close a research facility indefinitely, in AWAs S 28, penalties are sought to be enhanced from the existing Rs 200 upto Rs 100,000, with mandatory imprisonment of 2-5 years for a second infringement of Committee rules!

5, Anti-Legislation : AWA Omits the Amendments to the PCA Act Gazetted in Act 26 of 1982 which added two sub-sections to the Central Governments power to make Rules, viz S 38 (2) (ea) the other methods of destruction of stray dogs referred to in [S. 11 (3) (b)] and S 38 (20 (eb) the methods by which any animal which cannot be removed without cruelty may be destroyed [u/s 13 (3) ] . Elsewhere, the proposed AWA Act appears to usurp the Governments right to make Rules and replace this with the Animal Welfare Boards own Regulations. Its S6 (3) even seeks to remove Central  Govts prior approval for the Boards salaries to itself.

6, Anti Human Rights : In AWAs S 37 Presumption as to guilt in certain cases & the burden of proving [innocence of cruelty to animals] shall lie on the accused, which is totally contrary to all global norms of justice and fairness.

AWA also Omits the APA Acts S. 38 Limitation of Prosecution [from] &  the expiration of three months from the date of the commission of the offence which will keep the potential threat of prosecution hanging over an individual for a lifetime.
Mandatory imprisonment for some offences amounts to curtailment of the right to life and liberty of the public.

7, Anti-People : In S 18 the AWAct proposes to increase the penalties for attempts to increase lactation from the existing Rs 1,000 upto Rs 50,000 and/or a year in prison for a first offence, and for a second offence up to Rs 100,000 and mandatory imprisonment of 2-5 years with powers to the Committee to increase punishments even further.

In the 19 indiscriminate sub-clauses of S 17 (1), apart from discouraging real cruelty to animals, even subjective cruelties like working an animal without adequate rest (S 17 1b) or sufficient food, drink or shelter (S 17 1h), or hobbling the legs of an animal (S 17 1f) as is necessary with working elephants left to graze in the forest, will attract penalties of Rs 10-25,000 and/or 2 years imprisonment, and for a second offence Rs 50-100,000 with mandatory imprisonment of 1-3 years. Or more.

8, Anti-Poor : AWA Omits PCA Act S. 35 (4) which provides that when the magistrate so orders on account of the poverty of the owner of the animal, no charge shall be payable for the treatment of the animal [detained until produced before a magistrate]. Elsewhere, funds are proposed only for more animal welfare shelters, not for rabies control and treatment.

9, Probably Unconstitutional : AWAs proposed S 52 Repeal and Saving seeks to dangerously overrule by implication, in matters of stray animal control, all existing historic Municipal Acts, the Cantonment Act, the Police Act, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960, which have powers to vaccinate and control the numbers of stray dogs and consequent rabies.
See AWAs subsection: 52 (1) As from the commencement of this [Animal Welfare] Act, every other Act relating to any matter contained in this Act, whether in force in a State, or any Central Act, including the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and the Rules made thereunder, shall, to the extent to which that Act or any provision contained therein corresponds, or is repugnant to any provision contained in this Act or any Rule framed under this Act, stand repealed.

The AWAct seeks to give primacy to animal rights organizations (many of which currently receive massive foreign funding) to make rules and regulations, to take charge of animals and to charge individual animal owners for involuntary unwanted animal care, rather than the Govt or official agencies as before. This also seriously dilutes and undermines the power of the executive.

10, Anti-Judiciary : The main purpose of attempting to create a new AWA Act, instead of easily amending the existing PCA Act seems to us to be to give more powers to animal welfare organizations to legitimize their increasingly aggressive role in society and perhaps to use our MPs to overrule a judicial challenge to the 2001 Rules under the PCA Act which are currently sub-judice before the Honourable Supreme Court.

Comments

idontspam's picture

I agree with the anti human

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108 users have liked.

I agree with the anti human piece and support the clause that is recommended to be included to support elimination of stray dogs from the streets. If 25 million dogs cant fit on farms they need to be put to sleep. They dont belong on the streets.

roopan27's picture

Yes this bill is not thought out properly

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126 users have liked.

We all have read news items indicating kids attacked by stray dogs in a city like bangalore.Very shameful that such things happen, and now this bill says that you cannot even try to ward off a stray coming on to you.Makes me wonder whether dogs are the first citizens of this city and humans come after.

xs400's picture

People haters

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112 users have liked.

While I agree on most counts with all the animal rights activists, I would, as  another animal like to keep my territorial rights, this means keep off my territory!  Plus I will protect my species (unfortunately, this animal has been proliferating like the plague and is a real pest on this planet).

 

abidpqa's picture

Indiscriminate killing of

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Indiscriminate killing of dogs by the municipality because they have failed to implement the birth-control and vaccination measure is wrong. It is good that the act has provision to prevent it.

"Guilty until proven innocent" is draconian even if it is only applicable in certain cases.The approvals for using animals for scientific experiments should be done on case-by-case basis by some authority. There may be many cases where animal testing cannot be avoided.

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