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Deal Strongly with Wildlife Offences Says High Court

9th Dec., 2004

In a unique order on a bail application, a single bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court stated that offences under The Wild Life (Protection) Act should be dealt with strongly.

“The rapid decline of India’s wild animals, one of the richest and most varied in the world, has been a cause of grave concern”, stated Justice S. L. Jain, in October 2004, while rejecting the bail application.

The two accused had moved the Jabalpur Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court for bail. One of them had been arrested for possession of six leopard skins while the other is alleged to be a leopard skin trader. Their lawyer tried to make the case that the offence was of a petty nature and should be tried by a Judicial Magistrate.

However, the opposing counsel, assisted by Advocate Dharmesh Bhatt of the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI), pointed out the gravity of the offence and successfully opposed the bail application.

Justice Jain opined that “… some wild animals have already become extinct in this country and others are in the danger of being so. Areas which were once teeming with wild life have become devoid of it and even in sanctuaries and National Parks the animals are not being spared.”

The release of accused persons on bail during the investigation or trial period is a major hurdle in the successful prosecution of wildlife offences. This is due to the fact that the judiciary is often not aware of how organised and widespread wildlife crime has become.

The fact that a High Court Judge has recognized the seriousness of wildlife crime can only act as a shot in the arm for prosecutors fighting similar cases throughout the country.

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

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