WITH a view to protect animals from human atrocities, Cruelty to Animals Act, 1920 was introduced. It was enacted in the British period and remains unchanged until now. However a draft of Animal Welfare Bill has been approved by the cabinet in 2017 in order to reform the existing law in current context.
The law has a provision of three-month imprisonment or Tk 200 fine for destitution of animals. Imprisonment under the law will only be applicable if the accused does not admit his or her guilt and actually found guilty following completion of the trial.
The Act states if a person overdrives, unnecessarily beats, or otherwise ill-treats any animal or binds, keeps or carries any animal in such a manner or position as to subject the animal to unnecessary pain or suffering or offers, exposes or has in his possession for sale any live animal which is suffering pain by reason of mutilation, starvation, thirst, overcrowding or other ill-treatment, has any dead animal which he has reason to believe to have been killed in an unnecessarily cruel manner — he shall be punished.
The law has a unique feature to be escaped out of the guilt by paying only Tk 200 fine. Nonetheless the law only covers the domestic and captured animals, the newly drafted Animal welfare Bill dictates that stray animals, which are not owned by any individual, must be treated with compassion.
On the other hand, Bangladesh after her liberation took initiatives to combat wildlife crime and secure and preserve wildlife population along with many other development challenges. In 1973 president promulgated an Order, namely, Bangladesh Wild Life (Preservation) Order, 1973 (President’s Order No. 23 of 1973).
To accommodate new provisions in law for coping with changed situations, in 2012 parliament passed another Act, namely, The Wildlife (Preservation and Security) Act, 2012. The later repealed the earlier.
This Act is acting as the apex legal document for wildlife and biodiversity conservation in Bangladesh. Under section 36(1) the Act has made the illegal killing of tigers and elephants punishable up to 7 years imprisonment and in case of recurrence of the offence, the punishment can be extended up to 12 years imprisonment.
Section 36(2) stipulates that if anybody trades in tiger or elephant or any product of them, he is to suffer 3 years imprisonment, which can be extended up to 5 years imprisonment in case of recurrence.
As per section 44(3) and 44(4), the offences defined in this Act can be tried by the first class judicial magistrate or metropolitan magistrate and session courts. The Act also prohibits illegal killing of or trading in leopard, crocodile et cetera and birds or migratory birds.
Punishment for these offences rages from 1 to 5 years imprisonment. Abetment of offences described above has also been made punishable under the Act.
In order to ensure animal rights in Bangladesh there is no option left other than making the mass people aware of the laws. Therefore to stop cruelty and wildlife crime mass apprehension is very much needed.
Nafiul Alam Shupto is a student of North South University.
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