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Procedure For Trial For Offence Of Hunting Wild Animals

The relation between man & nature is well described by William Wordsworth in his poem Written in Early Spring when he wrote, to her fair works did Nature link, the human soul that through me ran

At Present, Man is demolishing nature, Environment and Wildlife. We all know that wildlife and wild animals are an essential part of nature. Growth of industries, urbanization, Technological excellence, and economical gains had led to the depletion of natural resources, irreversibly. This is mainly because of a lack of concern lack of public awareness and foresightedness, and indifferent attitude towards the grave consequence of the destruction of wildlife. Large scale killing of wildlife and loss of vegetal cover has resulted in a decline of environmental quality.

Concept of Wildlife Crime

The word Wildlife means the native wild fauna and flora of a region. According to Section 2(37) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, “wildlife” includes any animal, aquatic or land vegetation which forms part of any habitat.

Wildlife crime can be defined as taking, trade, processing, movement, possession, or consumption of wild animals and plants or their derivatives in infringement of any international, national or regional legislation. Administrating cruelty to a wild animal and the victimization of wild animals, both free-living and captive creatures adjoin this definition. As illegal wildlife trade is also known as a serious economic offense because it involves immense amounts of money, Hunting and illegal trade are known as a major wildlife offense. All other offenses come under ancillary offenses like preparation, possession, transportation, processing, etc

Types Of Wildlife Crimes

Types Of Wildlife Crimes

  • Hunting
    In India, during the early ages, men used hunting as a way of survival. Perhaps such hunting was sustainable when forest cover was vast, the human population was low and wildlife existed in high density. Hunting was more for subsistence and not for commercial interest.

    Various forms of wildlife are hunted for valuables such as charms, diablerie, souvenirs for many cultural values, superstition beliefs. The common belief of eastern cultural traits view apex predators as a sign of power and believed to possess magical powers and healing abilities, these views provide the demand in the international market for the products like Ivory, skins, bones, and horns of these Charismatic Animals. Hunting defined under section 2(16) of the Wild Life Protection Act 1972
    Chief Forest Conservator (Wild Life) vs. Nisar Khan
  • Poaching
    Poaching is referred to as illegal hunting, killing or capturing wild animals. Since the 1980s, the term "poaching" has also been used to refer to the illegal harvesting of wild plant species. Animal poaching exists for their body parts or skin as long as humans wanted them. In other words, this market, which is based on the demand for goods, has existed for a long time.
    The only exception will be when a wild animal becomes dangerous to human life or property. Although morally speaking; Hunting, capture, and immediate killing of animals only in case of self-defense or when it becomes dangerous to human life or property. In any other situation killing animals should be considered illegal because it is humans themselves who have decreased wildlife around the world.
    Ivory Traders and Manufacturers Association Vs Union of India
  • Illegal Traders
    Illegal wildlife trade gives a huge amount of profit to the traders with low risk and low penalties. In western culture, look at these animals as exotic, the sign of Prosperity and Craze for ornaments made of animals body parts such as (skin, claws, ivory, tiger teeth/bones), are used extensively in the fashion industry as well as collectibles which fuel the international trade of wildlife hunting machinery.
    Indian Handicrafts Emporium and Ors.vs. UOI and Ors. (2003) 7 SCC 589 –Supreme Court

Factor affecting Wildlife Crime

Wildlife had been affected by various persons who are involving as:

  1. Professionals: Proachers, Middleman, Transporter, Smuggler, Pharmacies, and other end-user linked with bigger mafia groups.
  2. Opportunists: Small-time criminals attracted by high profits, low risk, helpers at the scene of the crime.
  3. Little investigated group: Parthies, Bagadaies, Tibetians settlement Tibetian medicines
  4. Politicians:Political asylum

Need for Protection of Wildlife

  • For conservation of natural habitat
  • For agriculture and farming
  • For their medicinal values
  • For a healthy eco-system
  • For a healthy environment
  • For preserving rich bio-diversity
  • For recreation
  • For economic value
  • For livelihood of individuals
  • For aesthetical value
  • For socio-cultural value

Protection for Wildlife

The Wildlife Act 1972 provides protection of birds, plants, wild animals and aquatic animals guaranteed the ecological and environmental protection of the country.

Laws for Protecting Wildlife

The Acts which have an important bearing on wildlife enforcement in India include:

  • First Indian Forest Act, 1865
  • Madras Wild Elephant Preservation Act,1873: This was the first wildlife legislation in Modern India.
  • Elephant Preservation Act ,1879
  • The Indian Forest Law Act VII, 1878
  • The Indian Forest Act, 1927 : This act has been amended by various states and it will be useful to look at respective state amendments
  • Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act,1960
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
  • The Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986 : An Act to provide for the protection and improvement of environment and other connected matters
  • Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 with Amendments Made in 1988
  • Article 48A & 51A (g) of the Indian Constitution related to the protection and improvement of Wildlife.
  • Biological Diversity Act,2002
  • Wildlife (Protection) Amendment Act 2006
  • The Criminal Procedure Code, 1974
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860:Section 428 and Section 429 read that killing, poaching, maiming, poisoning, or torturing an animal is a cognizable offense and immediately FIR must be lodged in the area police station. The punishment for such an act is rigorous imprisonment which may extend to five years or fine or both.
  • The Arms Act, 1959
  • The Foreign Trade (Development and Regulation) Act, 1992 :India does not have CITES specific legislation, as of now. At present, all Export and Import, including that of (wildlife CITES Listed Species), is regulated under the EXIM Policy formulated under this act.
  • The Customs Act, 1962 :Violation of customs regulations in export and import are punishable under this Act.
  • The Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002, as amended in 2009 Hunting of wild animals is an offense under this Act.

Agencies involved in tackling Wildlife Crime

Agencies involved in tackling Wildlife Crime

Establishment of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau:
A Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB) has been set up by the Ministry. Under the provisions of Environment and Forests, Government of India, Chapter IV-C as amended in 2006, sections 38Y and Z of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. It is being seen as a major opportunity to address the issues of illicit trade in wildlife India.

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau Organization Structure:

Wildlife Crime Control Bureau Organization Structure

Who can go to Court?

As per the provisions of Sec. 55 of the WLPA1972, the following persons can file a complaint under this act:
  • Director of Wildlife Preservation or any other officer authorized on this behalf by the Central Government
  • Member Secretary, Central Zoo Authority in matters of violation of Chapter IV-A
  • Member Secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority
  • Director of concerned Tiger Reserve
  • Chief Wildlife Warden or any other officer authorized on this behalf by the state government, subject to conditions as specified by the state government
  • Officer in charge of a zoo for violations of Sec 38-J
  • Any person who has given a notice of 60 days in the prescribed manner of the alleged offense and of his intention to make a complaint to the central government or state government or the authorized officer.

Procedure
Collection of Intelligence
Intelligence information is collected to forecast, analyze, and publicize, prevent, or monitor criminal activities. From sporadic incidents of poaching (mainly for meat), wildlife crimes have now increased to organized criminal activities with international criminality. The collection of intelligence about such organized criminal networks, and their activities, and the aggregation of such information on a real-time basis require time to effectively deal with wildlife crimes

WCCB Bureau Headquarters, New Delhi or its regional offices at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, and Jabalpur.

Registration of Cases
In traditional offenses, the investigation of the case in the form of First Information Report (FIR) begins. However, in wildlife crime, seizure of wildlife/wildlife articles or apprehension of accused or suspect before registration of the case.

In wildlife offenses, the investigation can begin with an arrest/seizure by an authorized officer, recording a threat/crime report or seizure. In various states the report is known by various names like seizure intensity preliminary report (POR), crime report, first information report (FIR), H-2 case, etc.

The first report submitted to a judicial court in wildlife crime cases can be called the Wildlife Crime Report (WLOR). Wildlife crime report should be prepared under section 50 (4) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

Search and Seizure
Search and seizure should be done as per the provisions of Section 50 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Although the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 gives the authorized officer the power to enter, search, arrest, and detention but the procedure prescribed under section 100 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC), such as discovery in the presence of two independent witnesses. To conduct, prepare a list of things seized during the search, conduct search of female occupants using female officers, handover of the seer of the overwritten search list, etc., must be strictly followed.

Arrest
The arrest of the accused is an integral part of the investigation into wildlife crimes. Forest officers and police officers, not below the rank of sub-inspector, are the most vulnerable and detained inspector under sections 50 (1) (c) and 50 (3) of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.

Writing the Wildlife Offence Report

  • Wild life offense report is to be filed before the magistrate within a 24 hours of arrest of the accused
  • In case of absconding accused, efforts made to find the accused must be clearly mentioned
  • WLOR should be preferably typed, or should be neatly handwritten without any over writings or alterations
  • Should be specific and without any ambiguity
  • Name of the species, Schedule, quantum of punishment prescribed, whether accused is a first time or a repeat offender should be mentioned.
  • Officer filing the complaint should sign all pages of the WLOR.
  • WLOR must have a prayer seeking judicial custody of the accused and permission to send seized evidence for forensic examination.

Investigation and Complaint

Investigation and Complaint

Who can investigate a wildlife offense?
Wildlife Protection Act 1972, under Sec 50, (8) provides for special powers that are not below the rank of Asstt. Director of Wildlife Preservation and Asstt. Conservator of Forests For an investigation of offenses under this Act. It just means that the concerned authorities have additional powers for investigation and It is not that they are the only officers to conduct such an investigation.

The Hon. Supreme Court of India, in CBI v/s Motilal (2001) has held that the Police and the CBI can also investigate wildlife offenses.

Compounding of offenses

Section 54 of the Wildlife Protection (Protection) Act 1972 does not give the Director of Wildlife Protection or any other officer below the rank of Assistant Director of Wildlife Conservation notified by the Central Government and the Chief Wildlife Warden or any other officer.

The post of the sub-forest guardian for confessing from any person against whom a reasonable suspicion exists that he has committed an offense against the act, by paying the amount of money by way of compounding of the offense to such person Is suspected The sum of money accepted or accepted as composition shall not, in any case, exceed twenty-five thousand rupees. Upon payment of such funds to the authorized officer, the suspect, if in custody, will be discharged and no further proceedings will be taken against him in connection with the offense.

Prosecution of Cases in Courts

Under Section 55 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, cases are filed in accordance with the provisions of sections 244 to 248 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Each court should have a forest officer to follow the prosecution in the cases under trial, execution of procedures, ensuring the presence of witnesses and briefing them before evidence, in progress through an immediate superior to judicial ACF / DCF Should present daily court diary. Hearing of cases listed in court on that day, the presence and performance of prosecution witnesses and public prosecutors, the next date of hearing, and any other observation of their relevance during the trial proceedings.

Writing the complaint

  • Complaint is to be filed within the 60 days of arrest of the first accused in case of judicial custody of the accused.
  • should be preferably typed, or should be neatly handwritten without any over writings or alterations
  • Should be specific and without any ambiguity.
  • Should be in plain language and narrated sequentially.
  • Name of the species, Schedule, quantum of punishment prescribed whether accused is a first time or a repeat offender should be mentioned.
  • Authorized officer filing the complaint should sign all pages of the WLOR.
  • Complaint must have a prayer seeking imprisonment and / or fine

Role of Supervisory Officers

Supervisory officers are required to personally supervise the investigation and travel to the crime scene as far as possible. DFO / DCF should keep a running notebook of reported wildlife offenses under their jurisdiction, wherein they should file a summary of the WL OR and the main points of subsequent investigations on a regular basis.

Post-trial action

When a final order is made by the trial court in a wildlife crime case, a copy of the judgment should be obtained and analyzed by the concerned DCF / ACF and sent to the next higher formats with his comments and sentencing. In this case, there should be sufficient punishment. Given. In the case of acquittal, DCF will have to comment and send it to the legal cell if there is scope for appeal.

Other Important Judgments in Wildlife Crime Cases

Motilal vs. CBI and Ors.(2002) 4 SCC 713 - Supreme Court.
Offence made under Sections 50, 51,54 and 55 of WPA, Section 4 (42) of Cr.P.C. Offence, punishable under the Act can be Investigated by CBI. WPA is not a complete code in itself
Indian Handicrafts Emporium and Ors.vs. UOI and Ors. (2003) 7 SCC 589 - Supreme Court

Offence made under Article 14, 19 (1) (g) & 19 (1) 6 of COI, Sections 39,4,49-C, of WPA Total prohibition on trade in ivory under the WPA held to be reasonable. Trade that are dangerous to the ecology may be regulated or totally prohibited and therefore regulation includes prohibition. Traders are a class by themselves. In absence of such criminal trial and offence having been found committed, Section 39 may not have any application. In that view of the matter it is evident that the properties do not stand vested in the Government in terms there for. The purport and object of the Act must be given its full effect

State of M.P.vs. Madhukar Rao,
JT 2008 (1) SC364 Supreme Court
Offence made under Section 39 Any attempt to operationalize Section 39(1)(d) of the Act merely on the basis of seizure and accusation/allegations levelled by the departmental authorities would bring it into conflict with the constitutional provisions and would render it unconstitutional and invalid.

Sansar Chand vs. State of Rajasthan (2010) 10 SCC 604 - Supreme Court
Offence made under Articles 21, 48-A and 51-A(g) of the Constitution of India, Sections 9,49-,50 and 51 of the WPA Ecological chain and balance - Importance of wildlife conservation for the society. Directions issued by Supreme Court to Central and State Governments and their agencies to make efforts to preserve India's Wildlife and take stringent action against those violating provisions of Wildlife(Protection) Act. Extra-judicial confession in this case was corroborated by other material on record. Hence, conviction is sustained

Shashi Singh vs. State of Haryana,2006 (3) RCR (Criminal) 624 - High Court of Punjab & Haryana
Offence made under Sections 9,39,50 ,57 of WPA Taking the life of a defenceless animal, on the verge of extinction, hunting of which is specifically prohibited by Section 9 read with Schedule I of the Act, committed by the petitioners, so grave and heinous as to dissuade extending the anticipatory bail to them

Conclusion
The judiciary plays an active role in giving decisions in favor of wildlife preservation. Now the courts are also participating in wildlife protection by giving appropriate sentencing and deterrent sentencing in wildlife crimes. Most importantly let us all resolve that we should end the relative neglect of wildlife conservation in recent years. Wildlife conservation is too important a task to be treated lightly or ritualistically.

References:
  1. http://wccb.gov.in/WriteReadData/userfiles/file/Wildlife%20Crime%20Investigation%20Manual.pdf
  2. http://www.wpsi-india.org/publications/Offences_under_WPA_%20Case_Law.pdf
  3. http://mpforest.gov.in/hrd/trainingmodule/Wildlife/19-Wildlife%20Crime%20and%20Legal%20Issues.pdf
  4. http://nbaindia.org/uploaded/Biodiversityindia/Legal/15.%20Wildlife%20(Protection)%20Act,%201972.pdf
  5. https://parivesh.nic.in/writereaddata/WildlifeProtectionAmendmentBill2013.pdf

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