The 141-year-old Madras Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), now called as Madras Society for the Protection and Care of Animals in the city, which in the colonial era had British judges for presidents and over 30 uniformed and non-uniformed staff fighting against cruelty to animals, has now been reduced to an animal welfare society of less than a dozen staff members.
According to SPCA insiders, most of the former presidents and secretaries took turns wiping out the financial resources of the institution. They leased out properties of SPCA for 29 and 58 years of the lease. Even the Employee State Insurance Corporation (ESIC) amount deducted by the management was not paid to the ESIC, resulting in penalties, the sources claimed. A vehicle donated by RSPCA, London was sold to a scrap dealer for a meagre amount of Rs 50,000. The audit reports shared with DT Next also show mismatch in the entry of receipts and expenditures.
Meanwhile, a retired SPCA staff member filed a case with the Madras High Court pleading cancellation of lease and sale agreements executed by the former office bearers of SPCA for the period between 2013 and 2018. “For voicing in dissent and not agreeing to the looting, I was shown the door by the former SPCA administrators. The court ordered the restoration of my service and directed the SPCA to clear the arrears. But the SPCA is yet to implement the court order sighting lack of funds and the freezing of accounts by a nationalised bank. I am preparing a contempt petition to sue both the SPCA and the bank,” a retired SPCA inspector told DT Next, while disclosing the documents furnished in court.
The annual reports of the SPCA over the last three years revealed that there was no mention of the transactions and lease agreements between the SPCA and the private parties. “There are issues related to the lease agreements signed by SPCA and the matter has been moved for arbitration and the ad-hoc committee of SPCA is handling the issue,” said senior advocate S R Sundar.
A former president of SPCA, who requested anonymity, said, “The misappropriation of funds was existent in SPCA even before I assumed office.”
When contacted, SPCA executive secretary M E Duraipandian said efforts were on to restore the body’s activities. The new members are taking steps to clear the lease agreement issues and undo the changes, including the restoration of the name as Madras SPCA, and empower inspectors to book cases under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, he said. Steps are being taken to improve the services towards animals under stress, Duraipandian added.