Animal lovers in India are a little more hopeful about the future of strays in the country after the Supreme Court agreed on Thursday to hear a plea for re-examining the existing laws against animal cruelty, reported The Times of India.
Recently, several heinous crimes against stray animals were reported from across the country, such as the case of the Bengaluru woman who thrashed a litter of puppies to death on a boulder, in front of their mother, allegedly to teach the dog a lesson.
Then there was the vicious incident where a young engineer in Delhi stabbed puppies and dogs with a knife, before throwing their bodies outside the Green Park metro station. On his arrest, he said he had been depressed and had killed the dogs to relieve his distress.
Thousands of similar cases take place every day but most of them go largely unreported and the criminals usually face no penalty. The tragic part is that many don’t even recognise such curelty as crimes.
The flagrant increase in cruelty against strays has partly to do with the growing number of strays in the country. According to the National Livestock Census 2012, there are 1.71 crore strays in India, reported the Deccan Chronicle. The other problem is the absence of an adequate law.
There is no separate provision for the protection of animals in the Indian Constitution. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, says that a fine of Rs. 50 is applicable to first time offences against animals. Offences against pets are dealt with under the category of “Property”.
In fact, the IPC also lays down a differential fine structure for offences against animals according to their price. So, any animal that is not owned legally by a human being is not a “property” or “asset”.
Many people are agitated by the problem of strays and it’s not surprising in some cases as over 20,000 people die in India every year due to rabies, caused by dog bites. However, the problem is that people often prefer culling strays rather than dealing with them in a humane manner.
Cruelty towards animals is often veiled as a harmless act of venting aggression and depression, but in reality it is an act of establishing dominance. Studies prove that there are direct links between violence towards animals and violence in general.
According to a study by Michigan State University, someone who shows aggression towards animals is likely to show aggression towards other human beings at some point in life. Child abuse and domestic violence have also been linked to animal cruelty.
“It does not behove a civilized society that the only punishment for hacking a puppy to death is a paltry Rs 50 fine and no jail term. It flies in the face of our Constitutional duty under Article 51A (g), which enjoins us to have compassion for all living beings and not just humans,” said advocate Prashant Bhushan, standing for an NGO, to a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Siva Kirti Singh.
The Bench has asked the Centre to look into the issue of harsher penalisation for animal cruelty. As deliberations continue, a lot of innocent lives hang with uncertainty in the balance.