HC comes down hard on poaching, greed of man

It elaborates on elephant poaching while transferring the batch of petitions to the CBI

“Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible nature, unaware that this nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshipping,” the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court quoted Canadian Astrophysicist Hubert Reeves in its elaborate order transferring a batch of elephant poaching incidents that took place prior to 2015 to the CBI.

Quoting a couplet from Thirukkural, a Division Bench of Justices M.M. Sundresh and N. Sathish Kumar observed that Thiruvalluvar emphasised the primary function and duty of a human being stating that man, who shares his belongings with fellow living beings and takes care of them, is more virtuous, endowed with wisdom than what the greatest literatures would teach.

The court which was hearing a suo motu public interest litigation petition initiated in 2018 had directed the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau to file a report after making an elaborate study. The report submitted before the court lists the accused who had committed the offence at the bottom and the kingpins at the top.

One of the statements of an accused – ‘Eagle’ Rajan – has been extracted in the order.

“From the above, it appears that the crime which happened over a decade prior to 2015, got extended beyond the boundaries of not only the State but also the country. It further indicates the network involved. Therefore, we are not dealing with a mere case of poaching, but also a demand created by customers”, the judges said.

“The investigation also reveals the details of transactions, including transfer of money through bank accounts. The greed of the man could well be seen from the transactions that happened. It is not a mere case of poaching for livelihood, but a trading on wildlife, driven by the sadistic pleasure of man. We do not wish to say anything more. The report speaks for itself,” the judges observed.

“The persons mentioned in the report are numerous, hailing from different places and their roles are also different. The arrests made are with respect to a few cases and that too at the bottom level. Suffice it to state that middlemen and kingpins are left untouched. We do not know whether it is an oversight or design. Even after the report having been addressed, the respondents turned a furtive look feigning ignorance.

“These cases involve investigation crossing the borders as indicated earlier. Thus, we are not in a position to agree with the submissions made by the learned Additional Advocate General that further investigation would be made with the cooperation of the nearby State. Under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, not only poaching but also mere possession is an offence.

“While parting with this issue, we make it clear that our observations are only prima facie in nature. Therefore, they have to be taken in their own context, which is inclusive of the ones made against the State governments and its officials. In this connection, we may note that the report clearly suggests that the poaching has been going on for over a decade prior to 2015 and obviously, there are few reported now. The CBI is also at liberty to have its investigation without being influenced by our observations,” the judges said.

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