The Karnataka High Court while allowing a criminal petition in connection to the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 held that a cognizance taken based on a final report submitted by a Range Forest Officer is not permissible.

The Range Forest Officer had registered an FIR for the offences alleged against the petitioner i.e., the accused.

A Single Bench of Justice Hemant Chandangoudar observed, “Section 55 of the Act, 1972 specifies that the cognizance of the offences under the provision of the Act, 1972 can be taken only upon a complaint in writing by a person enumerated in Section 55 (a to c). In other words, the cognizance cannot be taken on the basis of the final report submitted by the Range Forest Officer. Hence, the cognizance taken on the basis of the final report is impermissible and stands vitiated.”

Advocate Naveen Kumar P. appeared on behalf of the petitioner i.e., the accused while HCGP Mahesh Shetty appeared on behalf of the respondent i.e., the State.

In this case, the accused was in possession of common Languor (Presbytis entellus), 4 Parrots (Psittacidae), and 2 Ducks (Anatidae). The Range Forest Officer conducted a raid and seized the said animal and birds from the custody of the accused.

Thereafter, the Range Forest Officer submitted a charge sheet before the Magistrate for the offences under Sections 2(16)(b), 9, 39, 49 & 51 of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The Magistrate on the basis of the final report submitted by the Range Forest Officer took cognizance of the said offences and therefore, the accused approached the High Court.

The High Court after hearing both parties asserted, “… impugned proceedings in C.C.No.595/2016 (FOC No.07/2015-16) pending on the file of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bengaluru Rural District is hereby quashed.”

The Court, therefore, quashed the proceedings pending before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate.

Accordingly, the Court allowed the petition.

Cause Title- Ashraf M v. State of Karnataka & Anr.

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