The High Court Of Uttarakhand examined the Uttarakhand Forest Department's management of three man-eating incidents in a village near Bhowali. These incidents led to the loss of three human lives, prompting the Chief Wildlife Warden's intervention under Section 11 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (the Act).

The Court addressed the necessity for strict adherence to the legal provisions outlined in Section 11(1)(a) of the Act when dealing with unidentified man-eaters, whether they be leopards or tigers. The Section empowers the Chief Wildlife Warden to issue orders permitting the hunting of such animals under specific conditions.

A Single Bench of Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma observed “there cannot be any irrational decision by the Chief Wild Life Warden the authority competent to direct to hunt a wildlife included in Schedule 1 of the Act, to issue a direction a the hands of the Chief Wild Life Warden, to hunt down the animal without the satisfaction being recorded by him, who is an authority designated by law as contemplated under Section 11 (1) (a) of the Act.

Advocate Karthik Jayashankar appeared for the suggested experts while Advocate General S.N. Babulkar appeared for the respondents.

The Court discussed that although Section 11 of the Act uses the term ‘may,’ it requires “strict adherence of subsequent expression of a ‘satisfaction’, i.e. the satisfaction which has to be based on material placed before him, there has to be an order in writing based on material and more importantly stating the logical and satisfactory reasons to permit a hunting of a man-eater or a wild animal which has been thus identified as a man-eater.

The Court noted that the "Standard Operating Procedure to Deal with Emergency Arising Due to Straying of Tigers in Human Dominated Landscapes" policy, as per the provisions in Section 11 of the Act, was adhered to by the Chief Wild Life Warden. Strict adherence to this policy is necessary before issuing directives to hunt animals.

The Court observed that the “guidelines before deciding to hunt wild animal has to be mandatorily followed by the competent officials in future.”

Cause Title: Suo Motu PIL In The Matter Of Hunting Down The Man Eater Leopard In The Village Bhimtal Area v. Principal Secretary, Forest and Environment & Ors.

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