Calcutta High Court Constitutes ‘Humane Committee’ For Animal Protection In 5 Districts

Udit Singh

23 Feb 2023 12:50 PM GMT

  • Calcutta High Court Constitutes ‘Humane Committee’ For Animal Protection In 5 Districts

    The Calcutta High Court on Monday constituted a “Humane Committee” in Paschim Medinipur, Bakura, Purulia, Jhargram and Murshidabad districts for protection and preservation of the animals in the forest and to see that the animals are not killed indiscriminately during hunting festivals or otherwise.The division bench of Justice Arjit Banerjee and Justice Apurba Sinha Ray said:“We propose...

    The Calcutta High Court on Monday constituted a “Humane Committee” in Paschim Medinipur, Bakura, Purulia, Jhargram and Murshidabad districts for protection and preservation of the animals in the forest and to see that the animals are not killed indiscriminately during hunting festivals or otherwise.

    The division bench of Justice Arjit Banerjee and Justice Apurba Sinha Ray said:

    “We propose to form a committee which shall ensure implementation of the judgment and order dated April 18, 2019, and in general shall takes steps for protection and preservation of the animals in the forest and to see that the animals are not killed indiscriminately whether during Hunting Festivals or otherwise.”

    The court was hearing a contempt petition alleging wilful violation of a judgment and order dated April 18, 2019, whereby a coordinate Bench of the High Court had directed the Principle Chief Conservator of Forests, Wild Life, Department of Forests to take immediate steps for effective prevention of atrocities against wildlife during Ritualistic Hunting Festivals.

    The issue raised in the writ petition was with regard to protection of environment, forests and wild life at large and in particular, the indiscriminate killing of thousands of wild mammals, birds and reptiles, which are protected under various Schedules to the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, and other statutory provisions.

    In the writ petition, it was alleged that killing of animals takes place by hunters from Tribal and Non-Tribal communities, especially during “Shikar Utsavs”, particularly in the five districts.

    Senior Advocate, Siddhartha Mitra, appearing for petitioners, submitted there has been no real implementation of the judgement and order dated April 18, 2019 of the court and no arrests have been made by the law enforcing agencies nor any criminal proceedings initiated against the offenders.

    The court said, “It is of utmost importance that the environment, the forest and the wild life at large are protected and preserved. This is not only because the humans must act with humanity. This is also necessary for maintaining the ecological balance without which Mother Earth will not survive resulting in annihilation of all kinds of life in the planet.”

    The court constituted the “Humane Committee” for the 5 districts with following composition:

    1. District Judge (Chairperson)
    2. District Magistrate
    3. Superintendent of Police
    4. Divisional Forest Officer
    5. Chief Conservator of Forests/Conservator of Forests
    6. Member Secretary, DLSA (Convenor)
    7. Public Prosecutor
    8. Wild Life Warden
    9. One person from tribal community to be nominated by the District Judge in consultation with other members of the Committee
    10. Divisional Security Commissioner, Head Quarters, Railway Protection Force of the concerned zone

    The court also endorsed the measures suggested by the petitioner as merely indicative and not exhaustive.

    The court said the committee shall apply its mind independently and decide what other steps can be taken so that the earlier judgment can be implemented in its true spirit and intent "and generally how the wild animals in the forests may be protected from being killed indiscriminately.”

    The court further asked the committee to hold a preliminary meeting, preferably within 2 weeks, and place a report before it on the next date, indicating the measures that the committee intends to take and the general plan of action to achieve the object for which the committee is being constituted.

    “Senseless killing of animals in the wild for pleasure and in purported show of false prowess is in our opinion, as heinous and culpable a crime as the offence of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The animals in the forests do not interfere with the lives of human beings as long as they are left alone to live their lives in their natural surroundings. They may retaliate in self-defense and justifiably so, when humans unjustifiably intrude and trespass into their territory and disrupt or destroy their habitat. They have a right to peaceful co-existence with Homo Sapiens in this planet,” said the court.

    The court directed to list the matter again on March 30.

    Case Title: Human & Environment Alliance League & Anr. v. Mr. Debal Ray, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden, Department of Forests & Ors.

    Coram: Justice Arjit Banerjee and Justice Apurba Sinha Ray

    Click Here to Read/Download Order

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