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High powered panel led by Justice Verma to decide issues concerning wild animals in country: SC [Read Judgment]

By LawStreet News Network      04 March, 2023 06:15 PM      0 Comments
High powered panel led by Justice Verma to decide issues concerning wild animals in country: SC

NEW DELHI: In a major decision, the Supreme Court has on Friday extended the jurisdiction of a high powered committee set up under chairmanship of former top court's judge Justice Deepak Verma to the whole country, to consider approval, dispute or grievance, concerning transfer or import of wild animals into India or their procurement or welfare by any rescue or rehabilitation centre or zoo.

A bench of Justices Krishna Murari and Ahsanuddin Amanullah passed the order to "serve real public interest and advance the cause of welfare, care and rehabilitation of wild animals".

"We further direct that all state and central Authorities shall forthwith report seizure of wild animals or abandonment of captive wild animals to the Committee and the Committee shall be at liberty to recommend transfer of ownership of captive animals or of seized wild animals to any willing rescue centre or zoo for their immediate welfare, care and rehabilitation," the bench said.

The plea was filed by Muruly M S, seeking directions to the Karnataka government to restrict transfer/sale/gift/entrustment of wild and captive elephants to private individuals and in particular, Radha Krishna Temple Elephant Welfare Trust.

It was pointed out to the top court that on November 07, 2022, the Tripura High Court, while hearing a PIL, had restrained the transfer and transportation of captive bred elephants from Northeast India and in particular from the States of Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh to the elephant camp of the trust.

The HC had also constituted a High Powered Committee headed by Justice Verma, as its Chairman, and members including Director General of Forest, Head of Project Elephant Division (MoEF), Member Secretary (Central Zoo Authority of India), Chief Wild Life Warden (State of Tripura) for Elephants from State of Tripura and Chief Wild Life Warden (State of Gujarat).

"Though the scope and jurisdiction of the High Powered Committee was limited by the High Court to transfer of the elephants from Northeast part of the country to the elephant camp of the trust, we see no reason not to extend it to Pan India".

The top court also noted that the said order by the High Court further provided that the Chairman of the HPC should co-opt an expert having experience of Elephants as a Member of the Committee and the Chairman may also consider taking assistance of the Chairman, Animal Welfare Board of India.

"Various well thought of directions were issued for the smooth functioning, powers, jurisdiction and assistance to be provided to the said HPC," the bench said.

The court also said extending the jurisdiction of High Powered Committee at Pan India level will not only serve the real public interest and would advance the cause of welfare, care and rehabilitation of wild animals, but will also curb the filing of frivolous PILs before different High Courts by busy bees.

It also directed that all complaints with regard related to wild animals may be forwarded forthwith to the High Powered Committee for consideration and recommending appropriate action.

"The Committee is free to conduct necessary checks and to undertake fact finding exercise in any pending or future complaint in this regard," it added. 

[Read Judgment]

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