Centre asked to enact animal welfare Bill

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New Delhi, March 31: In the wake of recent incidents of cruelty towards animals, including the assault on police horse Shaktiman, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has asked the Centre to enact the draft Animal Welfare Bill, 2014, which deals with such crimes.

Major General (retd) RM Kharb, Chairman of AWBI, a statutory advisory body under the Union Environment Ministry, has written to minister Prakash Javadekar saying it is “extremely distressing” that the Bill still remains in “cold storage.”

“A strong animal protection law is the need of the hour, not just in view of the rise in animal abuse and crimes against animals, but also because there is a very high level of positive interest among many people in ensuring that animals are protected.

“The draft Animal Welfare Bill, 2014, is reflective of the Supreme Court’s vision and… also provides for substantially higher penalties than the existing provisions. I urge the ministry to consider the Bill and work towards its enactment,” Kharb said in the letter.

He said he had earlier written to the ministry in March last year seeking the enactment of the Bill, which provides for substantially higher penalties than the “distressing” low amounts of Rs 50 or Rs 100 currently prescribed even for the most heinous and barbaric crimes against animals.

“Animal abuse seems to have peaked and mindless cruelties are suffered by our defenceless animal friends. Enacting the draft Animal Welfare Bill 2014 submitted by AWBI to the ministry is, therefore, the need of the hour,” Kharb said.

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Activist groups said the rise of animal abuse cases, including the assault on police horse Shaktiman in Dehradun, the cold-blooded murder of puppies in Delhi and Bengaluru and the acid attack on a pony in Hyderabad, has put the spotlight on the pressing need to strengthen animal laws in the country.

There is a demand that punishment in cases of animal abuse be made compoundable.

“It is imperative that punishment for animal cruelty is made adequate and Animal Welfare Bill, 2014, be introduced to establish higher standards of animal welfare in the country,” said NG Jayasimha, managing director of Humane Society International-India.

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