The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has drafted a very strong Animal Welfare Bill that will effectively combat cruelty towards animals. The bill has enhanced penalties to deter torture and inhumane treatement of animals.
However, this strong bill is at risk because vested interests are trying to bring in a watered down bill that will harm animal welfare rather than safeguard it.
Animal rights workers across the country are behind the strong bill as proposed by the AWBI.
We call on Jayanthi Natarajan, Minister of Environment and Forests to support the bill as proposed by the AWBI and ensure that there is no watering down of any of the clauses in this bill.
As Mahatama Gandhi said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated"
Save the Draft Animal Welfare Act 2011 from Vested Interests
We call on the Government of India to ensure that the Draft Bill of Animal Welfare Act, 2011 http://www.awbi.org/awbi-pdf/draftawact2011.pdf, as drawn up by the Animal Welfare Board of India and further modified by them, is passed in its entirety without any dilution of the provisions and legal definitions meant to protect the rights of animals.
We have learned that a new version of the draft law, unexpectedly and inexplicably drawn out by a ‘Non-Legal’ person from within the Ministry, has some serious short-comings and some potentially disastrous, if not lethal consequences for the animals. In any event, we are advised by legal experts that it is the Board’s function in law, to suggest changes to existing laws.
The seemingly arbitrary manner in which certain provisions have been deleted and some other damaging provisions introduced, points at a blatant and rather shocking attempt to cater to the interests of the meat and animal experimentation lobbies. The areas all animal activists, rescuers and welfare workers in India are gravely concerned about, are as under:
1. Watering down of the Preamble to the Act, which usually serve as the key for interpretation of provisions and elimination of 13 key definitions that will impact the implementation of the animal rights law.
2. The most shocking and inexplicable move is the removal of the requirement for humane slaughter for food, which had even found mention in the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. This ‘new’ law will actually be a regressive move.
In an age of the evolution of humane-consciousness and the recognition of animals as sentient beings, this will serve as a huge blow, not only to the image of our country but will allow needless and unimaginable suffering to millions of goats, pigs, bulls & chickens among others.
This will also endanger Public Health as inhumane and improper slaughter and prepping methods result in contamination of the water supply with blood and faeces. Animals standing or lying in their own faeces or weakened due to inadequate food and water prior to slaughter results in disease outbreaks which spread to humans, like Salmonella, fistula and other epidemics.
3. The other shocking point in a bill purported to be an Animal Welfare Act, is the proposal to create a Board for Control & Supervision of Experiments which will be comprised of members, not from the animal welfare world but instead, will be made of members from several ‘Research’ bodies!!!
Is the aim here to regulate and control animal testing and protect the animal test subjects, or to grow an industry of animal research? When worldwide, there is a shift toward adopting and developing alternatives to animal testing, why would our Ministry make a proposal that would encourage animal based research and experimentation? Are we striving to become an animal experimentation hub?
4. Introduction of blanket powers for the destruction of animals.
This would have a devastating and undoing impact on all the laws that served to protect the animals from indiscriminatory killing and cruelty, taking us back to the dark ages of barbarism and savagery.
5. Section 18 of the AWBI’s draft, dealing with cruelty towards Bovines, that addresses the practice of leaving cattle to graze on garbage and stray on roadsides has been mysteriously dropped.
This move would only serve to worsen a situation which is already bad. Every year thousands of cows, bulls and humans are injured due to road accidents caused by cattle straying into traffic. Cattle feed on garbage resulting in them dying from suffocation or intestinal obstruction caused by the consumption of plastic bags and other inedible material. We have also noted a growing trend of the most horrible cruelty to male calves.
6. The ‘Repeal & Saving’ section i.e. Section 54, proposed by the AWBI, which is far more comprehensive and adequate, has been inexplicably replaced by Section 48, which is woefully inadequate.
To have a ‘Repeal’ Section, and not a ‘Repeal & Saving’ Section, could mean that when the new law comes nto being, actions taken under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act which shall be repealed, will not automatically be saved. The implications of this can be huge and damaging.
7. Several other sections, deemed as important, by the board have been arbitrarily either dropped or replaced.
As concerned and dedicated animal lovers and ethically conscious citizens, this is unacceptable to us and we urge the Government of India to accept the Animal Welfare Board of India’s, Draft Animal Welfare Act of 2011 in its entirety.
We cannot stand by silently and allow the suffering, torment, abuse, torture and murder of voiceless, innocent animals. Nor can we accept the notion that the leadership in whom we place our faith to do the honourable thing, will not intervene and stem the most obvious effort to further the vested interests of those trying to profit from the enslavement of animals. Like humans, animals seek to avoid pain, procreate and coexist peacefully with other species on this planet and we are certain that you realise that as well as we do.
If we do not protect their rights and spare them from unnecessary suffering, then we are as guilty as the perpetrators of abuse and violence.
We trust that the Government of India and the Ministry entrusted with the responsibility to safe keep and protect the rights of animals will do the right thing and accept the AWBI’s draft in its entirety.
Animal Experimentation pictures: