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Cash-for-vote case: SC issues notice to CM on plea to transfer trial against him

In New Delhi, the Supreme Court issued a notice on Friday to the Telangana government and the state Chief Minister A Revanth Reddy regarding a plea to relocate the trial for the 2015 cash-for-votes case involving the Congress leader and others. The bench, comprising Justices B R Gavai and Sandeep Mehta, has given a four-week deadline for a response to the plea filed by GuntaKandla Jagadish Reddy and three others.

The plea argues that transferring the case from Hyderabad to Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, is crucial to ensure a fair trial. It asserts that Reddy, the main accused in the 2015 case, now holds the position of Chief and Home Minister for the State of Telangana, with 88 pending criminal cases against him. The plea contends that when the accused exercises direct control over the prosecution, the possibility of a fair trial, a fundamental aspect of Article 21 of the Constitution, is compromised.

Highlighting concerns about judicial fairness and the criminal justice system, the plea warns that if the trial continues in Hyderabad, the rule of law would be compromised, and public confidence in the justice system would be at stake. The two cases subject to the transfer request are titled “Telangana through Addl. Superintendent of Police Vs A Revanth Reddy & Ors” and “Telangana through Addl Superintendent of Police Vs Sandra Venkata Veeraiah,” both pending trial before a special judge in Telangana.

The plea alleges that Reddy, a former member of the Telugu Desam Party, offered a bribe of Rs 50 Lakhs as directed by his former boss Nara Chandra Babu Naidu (former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh) to Elvis Stephenson, the de facto complainant, to influence his vote during the biennial election on 01.06.2015 or to vote in favor of the TDP party.

Cruelty to animals: New Bill proposes increase in fine from Rs. 50to Rs. 1 lakh

NEW DELHI: Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Saket Gokhale recently announced on his social media platform ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) that he has introduced a Bill in Parliament to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The proposed amendment aims to substantially increase the fine for acts of cruelty towards animals from Rs. 50 to Rs. 1,00,000.

The existing Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 defines ‘cruelty’ as ‘any unnecessary pain and suffering’ to animals. Despite significant changes in the man-animal relationship over the past few decades globally and in India, this nearly 65-year-old law, which is the primary legislation addressing animal welfare, remains unaltered.

Section 11 of the Act outlines various acts and omissions that constitute ‘unnecessary pain or suffering,’ including overloading, over-riding, starving, abandoning, and beating an animal. The Act holds owners accountable for prosecution if any Section 11 provisions are violated, imposing fines ranging from ten rupees to fifty rupees for a first offense and up to one hundred rupees or imprisonment for a term of up to three months, or both, for subsequent offenses within three years.

While the fines were substantial when the law was introduced 64 years ago, they have become outdated in today’s context, prompting calls from various organizations for an increase in penalties for cruelty against animals.

Gokhale’s Bill responds to these widespread demands for changes in the law. The global shift in recent years towards greater awareness of animal welfare rights has prompted legislative bodies worldwide to enact or amend laws to better protect animals. The proposed increase in fines under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, reflects a growing acknowledgment of the need to safeguard the rights and dignity of animals.

The original Act was a landmark legislation in India, covering the protection of animals and regulations regarding their treatment, transportation, and use in various activities. However, due to the lack of an update in the fine amounts, the law has been deemed ineffective.

By proposing higher penalties, lawmakers like Gokhale aim to discourage inhumane practices and foster a culture of compassion and respect towards animals. Additionally, the increased fines seek to align Indian legislation with international standards of animal welfare, showcasing India’s commitment to upholding universal principles and contributing to global efforts to enhance the well-being of animals.