SC directs state & central authorities to report seizure of wild animals or abandonment of captive ones to high-powered committee
The Supreme Court has directed the State and Central Authorities to report the seizure of wild animals or abandonment of captive wild animals to the High Powered Committee.
The Court held that the said Committee shall be at liberty to recommend the transfer of ownership of captive animals or of seized wild animals to any willing rescue centre or zoo for their immediate welfare, care, and rehabilitation.
The two-Judge Bench comprising Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Ahsanuddin Amanullah said, “We further direct that all State and Central Authorities shall forthwith report seizure of wild animals or abandonment of captive wild animals to the Committee and the Committee shall be at liberty to recommend transfer of ownership of captive animals or of seized wild animals to any willing rescue centre or zoo for their immediate welfare, care and rehabilitation.”
The Bench left it open to the Chairman of the High Powered Committee to determine the honorarium and the expenses required to carry out functions, which shall be borne by the concerned State or Union of India as the case may be.
“We are of the considered opinion that the directions issued by us shall serve real public interest and would advance the cause of welfare, care and rehabilitation of wild animals”, asserted the Court.
Advocate S. K. Verma represented the petitioner while Advocates Sujay Kantawala and Gautam Awasthi represented the respondents.
In this case, the petitioner filed an application seeking clarification of the order passed by the Apex Court dismissing his Special Leave Petition filed against order passed by the Karnataka High Court wherein he sought directions from the State to restrict transfer/sale/gift/entrustment of wild and captive elephants to private individuals and particularly the Radha Krishna Temple Elephant Welfare Trust.
The main ground of challenge was that it is the responsibility of the State to take care of such abandoned or rescued elephants and other animals, which should not be abdicated in favour of the said Trust. Such a challenge via PILs made by the petitioner was dismissed.
The Supreme Court in the above context observed, “… we deem it appropriate to extend the jurisdiction and scope of High Powered Committee as constituted by the High Court of Tripura, with the modification that the Chief Wild Life Warden(s) of the State(s) to which the issue relates will be the co-opted as Members of the said Committee in place of the Chief Wild Life Wardens of Tripura and Gujarat, throughout the territory of India, leaving it open to the Committee to conduct necessary checks and to undertake fact finding exercise in any pending or future complaint in this regard.”
The Court clarified that the said Committee may also consider the request for approval, dispute or grievance, concerning transfer or import into India or procurement or welfare of wild animals by any rescue or rehabilitation centre or zoo, by taking assistance and co-operation whenever needed from all departments and authorities across India.
“We also direct that all complaints in this regard may be forwarded forthwith to the High Powered Committee for consideration and recommending appropriate action”, said the Court.
Accordingly, the Apex Court disposed of the application.
Cause Title- Muruly M.S. v. The State of Karnataka & Ors.