Order of the Calcutta High Court regarding protection of wildlife against senseless killings, 13/10/2023

Order of the Calcutta High Court in the matter of Human & Environment Alliance Vs Debal Ray & Others dated 13/10/2023. The matter related to protection of wildlife against senseless killings.

The High Court, February 20, 2023 had constituted a committee which was given the name "Humane Committee" at the district level for five districts - Paschim Medinipur, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram and Murshidabad.

In a judgment on February 20, the division bench of Justice Arijit Banerjee and Justice Apurba Sinha Ray said, “senseless killing of animals in the wild for pleasure and in purported show of false prowess is, in our opinion, as heinous and culpable a crime as the offence of murder under Section 302 of the the Indian Penal Code”.

The judgment came on a contempt petition filed against the chief wildlife warden of the state for failing to comply with an earlier high court directive — on April 18, 2019 — that had put a complete embargo on hunting festivals in the districts of south Bengal.

The contempt petition was filed in May 2022 by an NGO called Human and Environment Alliance League (HEAL). The petition alleged that hunting festivals continued unabated in violation of the 2019 order.

The HC, October 13 directed the constitution of a similar committee for the districts of Birbhum and Purba Burdwan. The court noted that most of the perpetrators apprehended by the Forest Department were from these two districts.

The "Humane Committees" for all the five districts, namely, Paschim Medinipur, Bankura, Purulia, Jhargram and Murshidabad, as also the two other districts being Birbhum and Purba Burdwan, shall hold mass awareness programmes to sensitize the local people against indiscriminate and unnecessary killing of animals. Such programmes should continue throughout the year. Personal interactions should be held with the local people. In other words, all kinds of measures should be taken by the Committee for each district to try and ensure that there is no indiscriminate killing of wild animals.