‘Set up special courts for forest, wildlife crimes in every district’

A Madurai-based activist filed a public interest litigation petition before the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Centre and the State to establish special courts in every district of the State to deal with forest and wildlife crimes.

In his petition, C. Anand Raj said conviction rate in wildlife crimes was very low and delayed conviction did not serve any purpose. There was a need to set up special courts to hear such cases in an effective manner. He said India’s rich flora and fauna had always been a target of illegal wildlife trade. The crimes against wildlife also had an impact on the economy, development and the security of the country.

Tamil Nadu was a pioneer in safeguarding wildlife and natural resources. It had enacted several laws for the conservation of wildlife. Many forests had been identified as protected areas. However, there were several cases pertaining to wildlife crimes still pending before trial courts, he said.

The petitioner said if special courts were set up in every district, offenders would not escape the clutches of law and pendency of cases could be tackled effectively. He pointed out that India’s National Wildlife Action Plan 2017-2035 had recommended setting up of special courts.

A Division Bench of Justices M.M. Sundresh and N. Sathish Kumar ordered notice to the Centre and the State, seeking their response. The court suo motu added the High Court Registrar as a respondent in the petition. The case was adjourned till February 23.

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