The Kerala High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by an NGO named Animals and Nature Ethics Community (ANEC) against the order to shoot a tiger that had killed a man in Wayanad.

The Court said that the PIL has been filed with motives which are known to the petitioner-NGO alone.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice A.J. Desai and Justice V.G. Arun observed, “In view of the above facts and the order impugned being a well reasoned one, passed on the basis of the report of the Expert Committee, we are of the considered opinion that the this Public Interest Litigation has been filed with motives which are known to the petitioner alone.”

The Bench also imposed a cost of Rs. 25,000/- on the petitioner.

Advocate Denu Joseph represented the petitioner while CGC Suvin R. Menon, Spl. G.P. Forests Nagaraj Narayanan, and Addl. AG Ashok M. Cherian represented the respondents.

Factual Background -

The PIL had challenged the order issued by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (WL) & Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala, directing the Chief Conservator of Forests (Northern Circle) Kannur to take appropriate steps to eliminate the tiger that had attacked and killed a human being in Moodakkolly area of Irulam Forest Station in Chedieth Range under the South Wayanad Forest Division. It was the case of the NGO that the said order was cryptic in nature, violative of various provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act and not a reasoned one passed in accordance with the guidelines issued by the National Tiger Conservation Authority under Section 38(0) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

The counsel for the NGO submitted that before passing such orders, requisite procedure is to be followed by the Authority concerned. On the other hand, the Additional Advocate General for the respondents opposed the writ petition and submitted that, in the challenged order, it is clearly stated that the Authority is supposed to take action for eliminating the tiger only after following the guidelines of the National Tiger Conservation Authority issued in November 2019 and hence, the writ petition ought to be dismissed.

The High Court after hearing the contentions of the counsel for parties noted, “It appears that the tiger had attacked and killed a human being in Moodakkolly area of Irulam Forest Station. To stop such further attacks, the Chief Conservator of Forest, who is also the Chief Wildlife Warden of Kerala, has passed Ext.P1 impugned order. Ext.P1 order was passed after referring to earlier communications and the report of the Expert Committee.”

The Court added by saying that the first clause of the order makes it clear that, unless it is undoubtedly established that the animal is the one that had killed the man, no steps to kill the animal shall be taken.

“As per Sub clause (2), maximum efforts to either to cage or tranquilize the animal shall be taken as per the NTCA norms. Similarly, clause (3) also contain detailed directions”, also noted the Court.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the writ petition and directed the petitioner to deposit the amount of imposed cost within two weeks.

Cause Title- Animals and Nature Ethics Community (ANEC) v. Union of India & Ors. (Neutral Citation: 2023/KER/79318)

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