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Taking a Suo Moto Cognizance Shifting of wild elephants from Gadchiroli forest to zoo: Mumbai High Court

The Bombay High Court st Nagpur took suo motu cognizance of the Maharashtra government’s move to shift wild animals from a forest in Gadchiroli district to a zoo in Gujarat. Through the learned bench consisting of Justices SB Shukre and Valmiki Sa Menezes  in the case of a Suo Moto Public Interest litigation (No. 5 of  2022)

FACTS OF THE CASE

The matter, in the opinion of a bench of Justices SB Shukre and Valmiki Sa Menezes, was of basic significance and presented a more fundamental concern about the rights of wild animals in a society dominated by humans.

It was implied that a method was necessary to guarantee that the rights of humans and animals are balanced.

The respondents arraigned by the Court were:

  • Union of India, through the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change;
  • Chief Secretary of Maharashtra;
  • Principal Secretaries of Revenue and Forest Department, Tribal Development Department and Social Welfare Department;
  • Chairperson of Maharashtra State Biodiversity Board and
  • Chairman of the Central Zoo Authority of India.

Senior Advocate JT Gilda, assisted by Advocate PS Tembhare, brought the issue to the notice of the Court. Additional Solicitor General NS Deshpande appeared for the Central government, while Advocate KS Joshi represented the State government and its departments.

OBSERVATION OF THE COURT:

The Bench noted how the Gadchiroli forest’s ecology was enhanced by the presence of wild elephants. The Court determined that in accordance with the Biological Diversity Act, it was the State’s responsibility to maintain the wild elephant population and safeguard biodiversity.

“While it is true that the animals and the wild animals not being bestowed with similar mental faculties including faculty of speech as human being, it is difficult for human society to seek consent of the affected animals before they are forcibly removed from one area to another area but, that should not deter a human being from devising some method where rights of the wild animals against their forcible removal and in respect of other matters are equally respected as that of man and a balance is struck between the rights of man and rights of animals including wild animals. If this could be done, much of the problems arising from man-animal conflict will be redressed,” the Bench highlighted in its order.

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Judgement reviewed by – Sudarshana Jha

Click here to view the judgement

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