As the country goes to polls, various animal welfare groups have appealed to the voters to ensure that political parties of their choice have animal rights and passage of the new Animal Welfare Act, 2011 on their agenda.
"PETA urges all the voters to tell their favourite candidates to make sure that animal rights and the passage the new Animal Welfare Act, 2011 is on their political agenda," says Poorva Joshipura, PETA India CEO.
The new Act, which is an improvement on the existing Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, has been pending in Parliament since 2011.
The new Act stipulates a penalty of Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 or imprisonment for up to two years or both -- for a first offence and Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh and imprisonment for one to three years for a subsequent offence.
"Every party should know that animal welfare is a key concern, and the first step towards addressing that concern would be to update the law that has been pending for three years and would strengthen penalties for cruelty to animals," Puja Mahajan, Senior Education Coordinator, PETA India told PTI.
Although party manifestos address a few animal welfare issues, none of them makes a mention of basic animal welfare issue facing lawmakers today.
BJP manifesto mentions cow protection and an intention to protect wildlife and also mentions an intention to promote poultry and fish farming.
"PETA engages with members of all political party on the need to protect animals. As Congress is in power so our main focus has been there. We recently tried to meet Aam Admi Party leaders on the same issue but the very next day, Kejriwal resigned from the chief minister's post.
AAP manifesto proposes enhancing the powers of the AWBI, increasing regulation of industries that use animals, protecting wildlife and educating law enforcers, and also talks of promoting livestock.
"We have also raised the issue of need to strengthen laws and other animal welfare issues with the BJP also," Mahajan said.
"None of the manifestos addresses passing of the proposed Animal Welfare Act which we would be the most basic, first step," Mahajan told PTI.
Congress mentions its plan to open veterinary schools.