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Supreme Court grants bail to accused held under Wildlife Act

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday released two accused on bail, while observing that the offence was under the Wildlife Protection Act and not under Section 302 of IPC.

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice S. Abdul Nazeer granted bail to Attar Singh and Soban Lal, who were arrested for carrying leopard skin in a red bag, a prohibited animal under Sections 8 and 9 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.

The remission of sentence was preferred by Attar Singh before Justice Nazeer, to which notice was issued on November 29, 2019, only on the aspect of quantum of sentence.

Sanjay Kumar Pathak, appearing for Attar Singh, submitted that Attar has been languishing in jail for 13 months. Vanshaja Shukla appeared for Uttarakhand government and Sub inspector, Kotwali, Uttarkashi, Uttarakhand.

The Uttarakhand High Court, while dismissing the plea of Revisionist qua Petitioner, held the view that police authority had the power and was competent enough to hold an investigation to proceed against Attar Singh in view of provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

If there was no complaint alleging the offence being committed against the person involved under the Wild Life Protection Act, then there was a bar of taking cognisance, but in the present case, since there was a complaint, cognisance was taken under the said act, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice Sharad Sharma had opined.

Leopard is a protected animal as per Sections 8 and 9 read with Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection)Act.

The High Court had mentioned about the exception in Section 55, which stated that the source of information can be given by any person, neccesarily it cannot be chief wild life warden/zoo officer etc.

The case of Attar singh is that Sub inspector, Kotwali Bhaskar and SHO Dinesh kumar, while they were on patrol duty, received information about  leopard skin being taken in a bag by two persons.

Both Attar and Soban were apprehended by the police team and nothing was found in their possession during the search. Some other private vehicles also reached on the spot.

The Prosecution averred that the accused were carrying leopard skin in the bags on their shoulders.

Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma of High court of Uttarakhand dismissed the Criminal Revision of Attar Singh and upheld the trial court as well as the Appellate Court judgement.

The Counsel before the High Court had challenged the authority of police, who apprehended Attar, which was not in accordance under Section 50(4) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act.

Attar had contended before the High Court that as per Section 50 of CrPc, a person who gets arrested, has the right to know about the grounds of arrest.

Power has been conferred to the police department and its officials by the Governor , by virtue of the Government order, in accordance with section 55 of Wild Life (Protection)Act, Ld. Single Judge opines.

On the other hand, Govt. counsel for Uttarakhand made submitted while relying upon Moti Lal v. CBI Judgment of the apex court that offences which lies under sections 50, 51, 54 and 55 of  Wild Life (Protection)Act can be investigated by the C.B.I. or on being empowered by the Central Government by issuing notifications under the Delhi Establishment Act by the police personnels.

The accused were convicted for the offence under Section 9, 39 and 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The trial court convicted the petitioner and his accomplice Soban under Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act.

Attar was awarded four years of Rigorous Imprisonment, while Soban was awarded five years RI. Fine of Rs 5,000 and Rs 6,000, respectively was also imposed on the petitioner and the co-accused.

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