A Tougher Law to Prevent Cruelty to Animals

Prelims level : National Conservation & Mitigation Mains level : GS-III Conservation, Environmental Pollution and Degradation, Environmental impact assessment.
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Why in News? 

  • The Union Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying have opened a draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2022, for public comment.


  • The draft is an attempt to overhaul the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, introducing 61 amendments to the law.
  • Along with animal welfare organisations, the Supreme Court (in A Nagaraja case 2014) asked the Parliament to amend the PCA Act to provide an effective deterrent.
  • In 2020, a group of MPs cutting across party lines wrote to the then Animal Husbandry Minister, urging that the punishment in the 1960 Act be increased.

The main changes proposed in the 1960 law:

  • Five freedoms to animals: Every person in charge of an animal must ensure that the animal has freedom from –
  • Thirst, hunger and malnutrition;
  • Discomfort due to environment;
  • Pain, injury and diseases;
  • Fear and distress, and the
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour for the species
  • Defining “gruesome cruelty”: Any act involving animals that causes extreme pain and suffering and is likely to leave the animal disabled for life. It proposed to include “Bestiality” as a crime under “Gruesome cruelty.”
  • Several offences have been made cognizable: This means offenders can be arrested without an arrest warrant.
  • Responsibility of local governments: In the case of a community animal, the local government (municipality/panchayats) shall be responsible for taking care of such animals in a manner developed by the State Government or by the Board.
  • More stringent punishments: The draft proposes fines from Rs 50,000 – 75,000 or the cost of the animal, whichever is more, or with imprisonment of 1-3 years, or with both, for the offence of gruesome cruelty. It suggests a maximum of 5 years imprisonment for killing an animal.

Need for strengthening the law:

  • Increasing instances of cruelty to animals in India.
  • Poor deterrence for potential offenders: First-time offenders under the PCA Act are punished with a fine of Rs 10-50, otherwise a fine between Rs 25 – 100, a jail term of three months, or both.


  • Simply increasing the quantum of punishment may not be enough to stop cruelty against animals.
  • Some already marginalised communities like madaris and snake charmers may be disproportionately affected.

SC on cruelty to the animal while recently hearing the Jallikattu case:

  • Prevention of cruelty is not an “absolute idea”.
  • The Constitution commands us to be compassionate to all living creatures, but it should have a balance. Should we, for example, be compassionate if a mosquito lands on us?
  • Animals should be treated as friends, and brothers and they have the same rights as human beings.
  • The Constitution recognises liberty, which is inherent in every living being, whether it be in any form of life.

Way ahead:

  • Behavioural changes through sensitisation programs.
  • Steps are needed to mitigate the larger issues of vanishing animal habitats and climate change exacerbating man-animal conflict.
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