On a Public Interest Ligitation filed regarding the alleged attempt by Corbett tiger reserve authorities to cover up a tiger poaching case and other anomalies in the State Forest Department, the Nainital High Court has sought an explanation from the State Government and department officers.
In the PIL filed by People for Animals Uttarakhand member secretary Gauri Maulekhi, the petitioner has requested the HC to direct the State government to initiate action against the Corbett director and principal chief conservator of forests (Wildlife) for attempting to cover up at least one confirmed case of tiger poaching; to quash the government order appointing the chief wildlife warden on backdate; to direct the State to investigate the case of the death of five male elephants in Corbett tiger reserve and to issue appropriate directions for deployment of Special Tiger Protection Force without delay to prevent rampant poaching in Uttarakhand. Calling this an unfortunate state of affairs, the HC has sought an explanation from the State government and department officers concerned.
The first of the four issues raised in the petition relates to the discovery of poaching tools and an animal intestine in Corbett on May 24, 2012 which was revealed to be that of a tiger following DNA analysis in the Wildlife Institute of India. The WII handed over the report to the then Corbett deputy director on July 3 but when the petitioner sought the recovery memo of the intestines through an RTI application on July 14 the application was denied on grounds that the DNA report had not been received at the CTR office. During the hearing of the first appeal on this application in October too the CTR director reiterated that the DNA report had not been received by his office.
The WII later provide this report to the petitioner adding that it had been given by hand to the then Corbett deputy director. Various other anomalies in Corbett have also been pointed out in the petition. The second part of the petition alleges irregularities in the appointment of the chief wildlife warden who has to be appointed by the State government.
“Despite the lack of a lawful appointment, the CWW’s powers were being exercised illegally by various officers from time to time and SS Sharma presently. In reply to an RTI application in February this year, the petitioner was informed that Sharma was never appointed CWW by the State government.
He has served on this post for more than a year and issued hundreds of orders like killing of big cats declared man-eaters, which only a duly appointed CWW would have been authorised to issue.
Later in March this year, the Principal Secretary, Forests issued a GO appointing PCCF Wildlife the CWW with restrospective effect,” states the petition.
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