New Delhi: India is doubling penalty for torturing animals from 50 to 100 and imposing heavy fines for risky livestock injections to raise milk output, as changes proposed to a 1960 legislation are close to becoming law.

The law ministry has cleared the changes and a cabinet note has been prepared for the same, an environment ministry official said on condition of anonymity. If passed by the cabinet, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (amendment) Bill, 2016 may be brought to Parliament in the winter session.

Animal activists, who have frequently demanded raising the fine substantially for ill-treating animals, are unlikely to be happy with the meagre hike.

“The amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, has been in the works for quite some time now. The fines prescribed in the Act at present for violators are very meagre and demands have been made repeatedly to enhance the fine for infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals to make it more deterrent," the official said.

“A cabinet note has already been prepared for it... It is expected to be taken up by cabinet soon," the official added.

Under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, if a person treats any animal cruelly by beating, kicking, torturing, the minimum penalty is 10, which can be extended to 50. The amendment will increase the minimum fine to 25, which can be extended to 100. The amendment also looks at enabling “participation of animals at events held traditionally as a part of customs or culture in different part of the country". This could legalize Jallikattu, a bull taming sport in Tamil Nadu, which has already been banned by the Supreme Court.

Similarly, at present, if a person is found using an injection on cow or other milch animal to improve lactation which is injurious to its health, he or she can be fined 1,000. The environment ministry is proposing to increase it to 5,000 with the amendment.

“I have not seen the bill as yet. But if it’s true, it is nothing but a joke. The salaries of officers who have prepared the amendment bill gets adjusted due to inflation every few years... but when it comes to animals, we are proposing such meagre increase. It’s a shame. Our only demand has been that the fines should be inflation-adjusted," said N.G. Jayasimha, who is a member of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and an advocate.

However, another official of the environment ministry’s animal welfare division defended the proposed increase.

“We can’t suddenly increase the fine by over thousands of times," the official said.

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