The Bombay High Court's bench at Aurangabad on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance of a news report published by the Lokmat News Network on April 15 itself pertaining to the alleged callousness, negligence and lack of sensitivity by the employees of the Forest Department while capturing a leopard at village Thergaon in Aurangabad district, resultantly causing the leopard's death.
Justice RV Ghuge directed the Municipal Corporation of Aurangabad to be impleaded as a party in order to take assistance of the veterinary doctors who are incharge of health issues of animals in Siddharth Udyan zoo run by the civic body in order to find out the reason for the leopard's death.
Court appointed Advocate Chaitanya Dharurkar, as an Amicus Curiae and directed him to draft a proper Public Interest Litigation petition before April 27 so that the matter can be taken up on or after April 28.
As per the news report, the leopard could not be tranquilized by darts and was physically captured with the use of nets. After the leopard was physically captured, there was no necessity to tranquilize it, even though this was subsequently done, the report states.
Moreover, the report stated that in order to rehabilitate the leopard in natural surroundings, the employees of the Forest Department carried it to the Gautala Forest area, which is on the Aurangabad-Kannad Road within the limits of Kannad taluka. However, the leopard was found to have died before it was released in natural surroundings and therefore was subjected to a postmortem. The veterinary expert Dr.Vijay Rahate noticed that some of the employees of the Forest Department had stepped on the neck of the leopard in their attempt to immobilize him and this caused asphyxiation (suffocation) leading to the death of the leopard.
"This incident cannot be taken lightly", Justice Ghuge observed.
Furthermore, the Municipal Commissioner has been directed to take into his custody all documents like photographs, postmortem report and such other documents in connection with the death of the said leopard, from the Chief Conservator of Forest Prakash Mahajan. The Commissioner has been asked to make two copies of the original set of documents and ensure that both copies are delivered in a sealed envelope to the Registrar (Judicial) of the High Court, by 3 pm tomorrow.
The Registrar (Judicial) has been directed to open the sealed envelope in the presence of the deputed officer of the Municipal Corporation and compare the two sets of documents with the original set of documents. Upon being satisfied, the Registrar (Judicial) shall return the original set of documents in a sealed envelope to the concerned deputed officer of the Municipal Corporation, to be delivered to the Municipal Commissioner.
The bench also directed Advocate Dharurkar to take up the issue of a crematorium for animals and livestock after Municipal Corporation's counsel, Advocate Chapalgaonkar informed the bench that the said Corporation has conceptualized the setting up of such crematorium in Padegaon area.
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