Wildlife activist Sangeeta Dogra’s petition in Delhi High Court redirected to government bodies for action
New Delhi: There has been a shocking revelation before the Delhi High Court, in which wildlife activist Sangeeta Dogra has alleged that some private shooters are managing to get high performance weapons and unlimited ammunition under the sports quota by getting enrolled with sports federations such as the National Rifle Association of India, and are then using it to hunt wild animals. It has also been alleged that certain important NGOs, empanelled with government bodies whose purpose it is to protect wild animals, are engaging these hunters and also buying such arms and ammunition from these hunters.
There have been reports of some state authorities engaging these hunters for killing wildlife. One such incident – killing wild boars in Kerala – has been in court already. While some of these killings of animals declared “vermin” by states is not considered illegal, the use of such arms, mostly in use by sports shooters, is anything but legal.
That is not the end of the story. These hunters are not unknown people. Many of them have been arrested before for such illegal hunting but remain free to repeat their heinous acts.
Reacting to this shocking petition, the Delhi High Court has asked the Centre, the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau and the National Tiger Conservation Authority to consider the plea as a representation and take necessary action.
Dogra wanted such hunting activities to be restrained by the court, or directions thereof to responsible authorities. Though the court did not accept the petition directly, it did allow Dogra access through important official doors in the regard.
Sports category weapons are generally not used for such shooting. Most sports category weapons and its ammunition are not able to kill big game, but there are some, especially in rifle shooting, which can fatally injure even big animals. Animals such as wild boars would be killed, though.
Dorga wants an investigation into how and where the weapons and ammunition were procured. It has been noted that such weapons and ammunition are sold illegally to hunting enthusiasts or even NGOs.
Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan acknowledged in the video conference that some of these shooters are known culprits, yet remain out in the open. The bench noted that the shooters have been arrested several times between 1991 and 2005. The court has asked the government to look into why persons arrested for hunting activities were being engaged by state authorities to kill wild animals.
Dogra appeared in person before the court and claimed that there has been a violation of SOPs and guidelines framed to kill man-eating animals such as tigers. She revealed that there have been no less than 240 post mortems held of such killings of apparently man-eating wild animals. Not one of the post mortem reports indicated that they were man-eaters.
Dogra reminded the court that only forest or wildlife officials are permitted under law to carry weapons to track down and kill man-eaters.
She said all these killings are in violation of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and are also in contravention of the Indian Arms Act 1959. That apart, these hunters are also illegally handling Scheduled X drugs and that is in violation of the Indian Veterinarian Council Act 1984. The hunters are wilfully violating National Tiger Conservation Authority & Human Leopard Conflict Guidelines.
There has been more. While speaking to India Legal Dogra revealed how these hunters have scandalized the Supreme Court too. She narrated an incident in which, in a Fox Radio interview, one of the hunters had openly boasted that he had been hired by the Supreme Court of India to hunt animals. This is a complete lie. The Supreme Court has never given any order to this effect. Not only that, the court has issued strict orders that no trophy hunting or illegal hunting should take place.
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The high court bench has further reserved the right of the petitioner to approach appropriate authority in accordance with the law. The bench has also directed the government to give reasonable time to the petitioner for appearing before them, in case needed.
-By Gautam Mishra