By Shivani Singh:
There must have been a few times when you must have witnessed an animal being hurt or tortured by cruel people who do it just for entertainment. I myself had seen so many boys troubling and hurting a dog just so that they could hear it howl in pain. That time I couldn’t do anything except to tell them to stop, making sure they don’t come again. Now I have become more aware. Just like me people in India are not aware of the fact that even animals have rights guaranteed to them in our constitution and you can file an FIR in the nearest police station if their rights are violated. India was the first country to establish an animal welfare board (Animal Welfare Board of India) in 1962 and also introduce the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act in 1960.
Even though we were far ahead in making laws and boards, we didn’t do a good job in propagating this piece of vital information to the masses. One of the main functions of the board was to increase awareness about this act and the consequences of hurting an animal but it was not done properly. Now in 2011 a new Animal Welfare Act has been drafted and the views of the citizens were open till March 2011 to make amendments in the draft. The draft is now going to be implemented with new, more stringent rules, tougher punishments and higher fines for violations have been included in the bill.
Many Animal Welfare Organizations (AWOs) have been conducting many such awareness programs to educate the people about these laws. Many people come to these organizations but they couldn’t do anything because there is no punishment. Under the Animal Welfare Act , 2011 many rules have been laid down regarding treatment of animals and some of them are as follows:
It is the duty of the AWBI to grant financial assistance to organizations which provide help, shelter, and food to animals when they become old or useless or when they need protection. Even owners who keep pet animals cannot keep them in places where they cannot freely move, like dogs in small cages. They have to keep their pets in places sufficiently spacious for them.
Even when you see an over-loaded bullock cart you can go and complain to the police — it’s a crime to over load, or even make an animal over-work. An unfit animal cannot be put to labor or an underage animal. Anyone cannot hit, kick or beat any stray or pet animal. It’s a common sight when we see vegetable vendors throwing acids on cows to keep them away. We see many riders just crushing small puppies on the roads and we stand there doing nothing. You cannot tie an animal’s legs or use any animal as bait or abandon any pet animal. It is against the law and the offender can be punished with heavy fines and up to 5 years imprisonment.
You as a responsible citizen if just watch as a spectator even you are a partner in crime. Many villagers and our milk vendors perform “doom dev” on cows which reduces the life of the cow just to increase their lactation. This is a criminal offense and the convict has to serve a 2 year imprisonment. Even the performing animals which we see and “enjoy” their acts have to be first registered and given approval otherwise it is unlawful. The new animal welfare act is now becoming more prominent since it has now introduced state level administration to tackle these problems and it’s more effective than just a central body. Any person found committing any offense mentioned under the new act can be arrested and detained without a warrant. With such stringent rules I hope the situation of the animals become better and the unnecessary pain and suffering of the animals is reduced.
Apart from this act Article 51 of the constitution asks every citizen to perform his duty towards the welfare of animals. Sections 428 and 429 of the Indian Penal Code make it illegal to hurt or injure any animal or purposefully cause harm with a jail term of up to 5 years. Even people who love and care for animals are protected under the Section 503 and any threat against them can result into arrest and detainment. So now when you see their rights being violated I hope you will remember to file a complaint. Even one person starting can make a difference because then there will be awareness about this and it will deter the anti -social elements to stop from their inhumane activities. YOU CAN HELP THEM PROTECT THEIR RIGHTS! For more information and FAQ’s refer to the official website of the Animal Welfare Board of India – http://www.awbi.org/awbi-pdf/APL.pdf.