Madras HC calls for explanation from special court for taking cognisance of wildlife offence

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The case relates to the seizure of lion’s teeth and claws and deer horns, along with narcotic drugs, in Ramanathapuram district

The Madras High Court has called for an explanation from a special court for trying offences under the Essential Commodities Act, to explain how it took cognisance of a charge-sheet filed by the Narcotics Intelligence Bureau-Criminal Investigation Department (NIB-CID) against people who were found to be in possession of a lion’s teeth and claws and deer horns, along with narcotic drugs.

Justices V. Bharathidasan and N. Sathish Kumar directed the presiding officer of the special court in Pudukottai to submit his explanation by February 21. The direction was issued after advocate T. Lajapathi Roy, representing a writ petitioner, contended that the special court had no jurisdiction to take cognisance of the offences under the Wild Life (Protection) Act of 1972.

The writ petition had been filed seeking an inquiry into the seizure by the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau. The counsel said that the NIB-CID officials in Ramanathapuram district had seized the remains of wild animals along with narcotic drugs during a routine vehicle check-up. Subsequently, they completed the investigation and filed a charge-sheet before the special court.

Though the final report had been filed under the provisions of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985 as well as the Wild Life (Protection) Act, the special court took cognisance of the offences under both the legislations. He pointed out that no court could take cognisance of an offence under the Wild Life Act on the basis of a final report filed by the police under Section 173 of Code of Criminal Procedure.

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