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Despite a decade-old Supreme Court order, no state in India has an animal welfare board

Ambika Hiranandani: It is a sorry state of affairs and animal welfare has been left to a few activists and NGOs entirely. The Indian government has washed its hands off its responsibility.

MAYANK AGGARWAL: More than a decade since the Supreme Court directive for states to have an Animal Welfare Board was issued, states across India are still either yet to form a State Animal Welfare Board (SAWB) or, where formed, are yet to support its functioning with staff and budget availability. In May 2019, animal rights activist, Gauri Maulekhi, filed applications under the Right to Information with every state government seeking details about the constitution of SAWBs, the budget allocated to them and officers deployed for them. In subsequent months, she received replies from states across India.

The replies showed that while the SAWBs have been established in some states like Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Laskhwadeep, they are not in a functioning position with one or more issues like no officer appointed to the board, no budget allocated, no meeting of the board conducted, no staff and other shortcomings. Additionally, some states and union territories like Karnataka, Bihar and Puducherry are yet to form or reconstitute (till the time of their reply under RTI) the state animal welfare board…

“SAWBs are statutory regulatory bodies for pet breeding and trade in each state. However, not a single state or union territory has set up and equipped these boards to discharge such functions. In the absence of such a regulator rampant violations of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act are increasing day by day. There is a critical need to form the SAWBs, which will also coordinate the activities of the district SPCAs,” Maulekhi said.

The struggle to get the state governments to form SAWBs started way back in August 2008 when the Supreme Court, while hearing a case, directed the states to form SAWBs within three months and constitute Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCAs) in every district. The SAWBs expected to ensure proper implementation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 at the state level, promote animal welfare and protect animals from unnecessary suffering.

SPCAs functions on the district level. They are expected to aid the state government, the SAWBs and other local authorities in enforcing the provisions of the PCA Act 1960 and to check offences against animals… Mumbai-based lawyer Ambika Hiranandani, who is also the member of the Maharashtra SAWB and district SPCA, said… “It is a sorry state of affairs and animal welfare has been left to a few activists and NGOs entirely. The government has washed its hands off its responsibility”.  SOURCE…


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