May 10, 2011
You may end up in jail for killing a mouse
HYDERABAD: Punishment for
causing the death of a person in an accident is an imprisonment of up to two
years. That is as per
section 304 (A).
But kill a mouse or even injure it and you will
have to suffer imprisonment for up to five years. Besides this, you may end
up coughing up Rs one lakh as fine.
It may sound strange. But the
scientific community involved in research is in jitters as the Animal
Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has come up with a draft Animal Welfare Act,
2011 which has listed out punishment for not taking proper care of
experimental animals. Experimental animals may include anything -- mouse,
rabbits, monkeys, etc.
More than 500 institutions, including
biomedical research centres, pharma companies, universities and scientific
institutions under the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) make use of
Realising how severely the provisions of the
proposed Animal Welfare Act, 2011 could hamper research in the country, the
has urgently called for a meeting of its scientists on May 11. The issue is
also proposed to be taken up with Union minister for environment Jairam
In a way the ICMR is actually reacting late to the proposed
new law as the
had actually given March 20, 2011 as the last date for receiving objections
to the new Act.
The scientific community is, however, seething with
anger as the draft has not even been circulated among the laboratories or
research institutions for their comments. The
National Centre for Laboratory Animal Sciences (
here is the only centre which supplies animals to institutions all over the
country for experimental purposes.
The scientific community has
reason to be upset as the proposed provisions call for stiffer punishment
for causing pain to animals.
Although no experimental animal is hurt
intentionally during research, if the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)
feels that the treatment being meted out to an animal could be hurting it, a
scientist or a Ph D student involved in the research could be booked.
A number of pharmaceutical companies also carry out research for
developing drugs using experimental animals and the proposed penalty clause
would affect the researchers.
It is learnt that the
Indian National Science Academy (INSA) has also objected to the new
provisions proposed by the AWBI.
According to the provisions, for
the first offence of ill-treating an experimental animal, the fine can be
from Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 with an imprisonment of one to three years or
However, if the offence is repeated, the fine will be Rs
70,000 to Rs one lakh and the imprisonment will be from two to five years.
"Quite naturally, the scientific community is worked up about this.
The matter will be taken up seriously," a scientist said.