Nagpur: Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court has summoned to the Chief Conservator of Forest, State of Maharashtra over a petition against tiger poaching in Karhandla forests. Hearing the petition filed by a medical practitioner and wild life enthusiast Dr Avinash Banait, the bench comprising Justice B.P. Dharmadhikari and Justice Rohit Deo have directed the Chief Conservation of Forest to remain personally present with all records on June 29.
In his petition, Dr Banait has alleged that large number of cases of poaching are being reported in forest area and tigers are being killed. The respondent forest officials have failed to prevent the illegal activities in the forest area. The petitioner has sought directions to prevent the illegal human entry in reserved area in violation of section 9 of Wild Life Protection Act 1972.
The petitioner has also challenged the impugned order passed by the PCCF u/s 11 (1) of Wild Life Protection Act 1972 by which permission to kill tiger (T-27-CUB-1) was given in Bramhapuri, Chandrapur. The PCCF has passed the speaking order and granted the permission to kill the tiger after receiving complaints from villagers that the tiger has killed two villagers when they went to pick tendu leaves in reserved forest area.
Dr Banait has contended that the said order was passed without following the due process of law and is violative of guidelines issued by “National Tiger Conservation Authority” on January 30, 2013. NTCA guidelines says that under no circumstances tiger should be killed unless it is habituated to human death. It also provides that elimination of tiger as “man eater” should be the last resort after exhausting all the options to capture him live. The guidelines also says that the PCCF should record reasons in writing before declaring the tiger as man-eater. NTCA also warns that identity of the animal must be obtained through a committee constituted for the purpose, through camera trappings or direct sighting or pug impressions, besides collecting pieces of hair/ scats for DNA profiling.
It is the contention of the petitioner that the “identification of the aberrant tiger” has not been done. It was also argued that said tiger cannot be treated as man-eater as he has not been declared one. The petitioner stated that “two deaths” caused by Tiger have occurred in “reserved jungle” / “Buffer Zone” where humans cannot enter normally. The illegal entry of humans in “reserved jungle”/ “protected area” is violation of section 9 of WLPA 1972. Hence the Tiger ought not to have been labeled as MAN-EATER.
The petitioner has also stated in his petition that iconic Tiger JAY has disappeared from Umred Karandla Jungle since last one year but no efforts are made to search him. The petitioner prayed for his search. The petitioner has also narrated the incident of Tiger Srinivas who was killed in electrocution.
After hearing the case the Hon’ble High Court has called for the entire record of the case from the Civil Lines office of PCCF. The state government lawyers found it difficult to defend the action of PCCF by which permission to Kill Tiger was done. The High Court prima facie found that guidelines of NTCA were not followed. The Hon’ble High Court has tersely observed and hold that PCCF is responsible for any loss of human life hereafter till further orders or loss of animal if wrong Tiger is killed. The Hon’ble High Court directed the PCCF to personally come and explain the process of “identification” carried out by forest department before killing a Tiger.
It may be noted that poaching and killing of Tiger is increasing day by day. The petitioner has sought directions to install “radio active collers” to all Tigers in Maharashtra.
Adv. Tushar Mandlekar and Adv. Rohan Malviya argued for petitioner. Adv. Ulhas Aurangabadkar, Assistant Solicitor General of India argued for Ministry of Enviornment and Forest, New Delhi, Adv. Mugdha Chandurkar argued for NTCA, Adv. Ketki Joshi, AGP argued for State Forest Department. The High Court has placed the case on 29-06-2017 for further hearing and directions.