New Delhi: The Law Commission of India has, on 28th August 2015, i.e. today submitted its Report No. 261 on the “Need to Regulate Pet Shops and Dog and Aquarium Fish Breeding” to the Union Minister of Law and Justice. The report observes that pet shops and breeders violate provisions of animal welfare laws with impunity, and recommends that it is necessary to regulate their practices.
India has a pet trade estimated to have an annual turnover of several thousand crore rupees, and growing at a fast pace every year, according to representations received by the Law Commission from animal rights and animal welfare organisations across India. However, the business remains largely unregulated. This appears to because rules in this regard have not been issued under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
As a result, while thousands of breeders and pet shops exist in the Indian market, there are no regulations protecting the animals they breed or sell. Reports suggest that these animals are kept in terribly inhumane conditions. For instance, it appears that puppies are drugged to prevent them from crying, large birds are stuffed into small cages and fish become stressed and sometimes die because of confinement, crowding, contaminated water and unnatural temperatures. Other common harmful practices include de-beaking birds, docking the tails of dogs, selling unweaned pups, and de-clawing kittens. Poor conditions in pet shops and a lack of basic veterinary care also put the general human public at increased risk of contracting diseases transmitted through animals.
The Law Commission undertook a thorough analysis of the legal position, various representations, as well as the large number of reports on the issue, and has noted that the provisions of the law are violated with impunity by pet shops and breeders. Given the gravity of the issue, the Central Government must seriously take cognizance of the issue and regulate such trade and breeding practices.
Further, the rules on pet shops, dog breeding and aquarium fish breeding have been drafted in consultation with stakeholders and lying pending with the concerned ministry since 2010. The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, based on the opinion of the Legislative Department and the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, believes that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, does not have enabling or substantive provisions to issue these regulations, and thus, issuing these regulations would be beyond the powers of the Ministry under the law. The Law Commission emphasises, however, that there are sufficient powers contained in the law which allow these rules to be issued, and recommends that the rules be notified and implemented at the earliest.
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