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Representational Image (Picture by: Yash Chopda)
The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court on Wednesday sought an explanation from the Superintendent of Police of Chandrapur for filing of 54 FIRs for 54 deaths caused by wild animals in the last six months. The bench comprising Justice Sunil Shukre and Justice Anil Kilor was hearing a PIL filed by Sangeeta Dogra (Director, Red Lynx Confederation).
Through the PIL, the petitioner has raised concern over the rise in man-animal conflict in districts such as Chandrapur, which have a good presence of tigers. The petitioner stated that the rising cases of man-animal conflict have resulted in human fatalities and killing of wild animals.
The petitioner stated that State Government and Forest Department have flouted Supreme Court guidelines, which have been issued (in Vidya Athreya and another Vs Union of India and others in writ petition (Civil) no. 275 of 2015) to effectively manage and counter man-animal conflict.
The petitioner claimed fault in collection of data related to number of deaths caused by dangerous wild animals like tigers, leopard and sloth bears. The petitioner also claimed that there is a palpable lacuna in identifying the culprit animal and this has resulted in unwarranted capturing of innocent tigers or leopards or sloth bears. The petitioner called for holding the State machinery responsible for such incidents.
When it came to light that Chandrapur Police have filed 54 FIRs against wild animals, the court expressed surprise while demanding to know the identity of culprits responsible for the deaths. The court also reminded authorities that criminal prosecution was only possible against human beings for causing injury to individuals or society at large. The court has sought reply from Chandrapur Superintendent of Police within three weeks.
Adv Zeeshan Haq was appointed as the Amicus Curiae in the matter around two months back. While Adv Kartik Shukul appeared for the Forest Department, AGP Nivedita Mehta appeared for the state in the matter.