"As an animal lover, I was thrilled to learn from my friends at People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, India (PETA), about the draft Animal Welfare Act, 2011, which, if passed, will significantly raise fines and increase penalties for those convicted of cruelty to animals," Puri said in a letter to Union Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan.
He appealed to Natarajan, appointed recently in place of Jairam Ramesh, to "please do everything in your power to pass this new act."
"Considering that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, was enacted 50 years ago, it is high time for India's animal welfare laws to get a much-needed 21st-century makeover. As it is now, penalties and fines are far too weak to act as a real deterrent to animal abusers," he said.
He expressed "shock" upon learning that under the old Act, penalties for persons convicted for abusing animals ranged from "a mere Rs 10 to Rs 50."
"I am so pleased that under the new draft act, similar crimes would carry a much heftier fine of Rs 10,000 to Rs 25,000 and/or a prison term of up to two years.." he said in the letter released by PETA.
This combined with stronger penalties for abuse would mean "only positive things for our nation's animals," he said, expressing hope that government will "put politics aside" and pass it.