Contents

  1. How to improve Centre-state relations?
  2. For the welfare of animals

HOW TO IMPROVE CENTRE-STATE RELATIONS?

Focus: GS-II Governance

Introduction

  • Some argue that India’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic reflects the power, problems and potential of federalism in the country’s polity.
  • In spite of the rather unilateral response in terms of imposing a nationwide lockdown, the Centre eventually chose to work carefully with the states.

Sustaining Coordination on a long-term basis

  • A typical response is to recommend shifting subjects to the Concurrent List to enable an active role for the Centre.
  • This is how the High-Level Group, constituted by the 15th Finance Commission, recommended shifting health from the State to the Concurrent List.
  • The country’s response to the pandemic has shown that carving out roles through consensus can address new challenges to federal governance.
  • The experience of the GST Council may help here as well. The ongoing friction between the Centre and the states over GST reforms tells us that consensus-building is not a one-time exercise.
  • It might also be worth to revisit the proposal for an elevated and empowered Inter-State Council.

-Source: Indian Express


FOR THE WELFARE OF ANIMALS

Focus: GS-III Environment and Ecology

Introduction

  • Over the past year there have been reports of animals being subjected to sexual abuse, acid attacks, being thrown off rooftops, and being burnt alive. A major factor that enables such violence is an inept legal framework.

Current Control

  • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960 punishes the most serious forms of animal violence with a paltry fine of Rs. 50.
  • However, this is not the only issue plaguing the PCA Act. Several other aspects of this legislation need reconsideration if India is to develop a meaningful animal rights regime.
  • At present, a majority of the offences under the Act are non-cognisable, which means the police cannot investigate the offence or arrest the accused without the permission of a Magistrate.

Classification of offences

  • Section 11 lists a series of offences, which vary from abandoning an animal to kicking it, mutilating it or killing it, and prescribes the same punishment for all these offences. Severe offences are treated on a par with less severe ones. This is a clear departure from established principles of penology.
  • The PCA Act creates a plethora of exceptions which significantly dilute the protections available to animals.

Procedures allowed

  • Though Section 11 criminalises several forms of animal cruelty, sub-section (3) carves out exceptions for animal husbandry procedures such as dehorning, castration, nose-roping, and branding.
  • The law does not provide any guidelines for these procedures. This allows individuals to resort to cruel methods.

Ambiguity in definition

  • The PCA Act also suffers from ambiguity in definition. The law was enacted to “prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals”.
  • However, this phrase is not defined anywhere in the Act.

Possible Amendments

  • An amendment is required to grade the offences according to their severity, and specify punishments accordingly.
  • Further, the more severe offences must be made cognisable and non-bailable.
  • Given that the aim of law is to achieve a certain standard of objectivity, it is essential that the expression “unnecessary pain or suffering” be defined.

Viable alternatives

  • Recently PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) India moved the Delhi High Court seeking the enactment of proper regulations for such animal husbandry procedures.
  • The petition suggests mandating the use of anesthetics prior to castration, and the replacement of cruel practices such as nose-roping with face halters and branding with radio frequency identification.
  • The exceptions in favour of animal husbandry practices need to be reconsidered as there are viable alternatives that would prevent animals from undergoing such trauma.

-Source: The Hindu

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