CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Monday said the progress made in cases of poaching of elephants in last five years “is not satisfactory at all”. “Except in one case out of the 14, trials have not started in any,” the court observed while expressing surprise that in most cases the Arms Act had not been invoked.
The division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice RK Pattanaik said a concerted effort has to be made to activate the law enforcement machinery for strict enforcement of Wildlife (Protection) Act and all other related laws including the Arms Act.
“In many of these instances, the elephants were found dead or grievously injured with bullet or pellet wounds. It is surprising that in none of these cases the Arms Act has been invoked,” the court observed.
The HC was hearing a PIL on elephant death in the State due to poaching. Gita Rout (40), a resident of the city had filed the petition.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) Shashi Paul had filed an affidavit, which explained that apart from wildlife crimes the STF of Crime Branch deals with inter-state drug trafficking, tender fixing, extortion related offences, kidnapping, illegal supply of arms and ammunition, gangs involving trade of human organs and all matters relating to terrorist activity, within the jurisdiction throughout the State. Taking note of it the Bench said, “Clearly the STF is overworked and cannot be expected to devote special attention to the task at hand considering that the increase in number of deaths of elephants in the recent past has been alarming.”
The court deemed it appropriate to call for an affidavit from the Director General of Police on how the problem should be tackled, particularly, how investigation can be expedited, accused arrested, filing of the chargesheet and conduct of trial be expedited. It requested the Advocate General to be present on the next date (October 17) to assist the Court.
The HC also called for a separate chart with an affidavit by the PCCF on the next date of hearing indicating current status of departmental enquiries against officials of Forest department who have been accused and facing action in the elephant deaths.