“Prevention and mitigation of wildlife crimes that has acquired an alarming proportion all over the globe, require multifaceted and coordinated efforts among various stakeholders including forest personnel, police, border guards, paramilitary forces, army and other concerned agencies,” said Mr Justice N Kotiswar Singh, Chief Justice (Acting) of Gauhati High Court at Bongaigaon today.
Delivering the key-note address in a sensitization workshop on wildlife crimes which was organized in Bongaigaon jointly by Assam State Legal Services Authority (ASLSA) and biodiversity conservation organization Aaranyak here, Justice Singh said fundamental duties as enshrined in the Constitution of India entrust all the citizens to protect the natural environment, forest, water bodies (lakes) and wildlife hence an SSB jawan posted on the frontier can’t overlook any attempt to smuggle out precious wildlife/wildlife parts from the country even though his/her principal duty is to guard the frontier. Same is the case with the Army, other paramilitary forces who are expected to play a contributory role in helping forest and police personnel in preventing wildlife crimes. He further spoke about fine points that must not be overlooked while apprehending a wildlife criminal or making seizures which are very important in cases related to wildlife crimes.
Addressing the workshop, Mr Justice Soumitra Saikia of Gauhati High Court while highlighting some of the key provisions in the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 pointed out that in conjunction of the WLP Act there are provisions of the CRPC which are equally applicable. Justice Saikia commented, “Largely, I feel that stakeholders, NGOs, law enforcers, experts, and forest officials have done a tremendous job. In judiciary, we can’t suggest/direct the government to frame a law. We are only required to decide in any given facts and circumstances of a case whether particular action by the authority or particular right claimed by the person/accused is capable of being granted under the provision of the Act.”
The workshop which was overwhelmingly participated by judicial officers of Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar and Chirang districts besides officials from Assam Police, Assam Forest Department, Sashatra Seema Bol (SSB).
The dignitaries attending the workshop included Nayan Shankar Barua, Member Secretary ASLSA, Tarun Dey, Secretary, District Legal Service Authority, Bongaigaon, Jagdeep Pal Singh, DIG, SHQ Rangia, SSB, Anthony Thanmi, DIG, SHQ Bongaigaon, SSB, Dr Vaibhab C Mathur, Field Director, Manas National Park, Bishnu Singh, DFO, Raimona National Park.
Earlier, presenting a bird’s eye view of the global wildlife crime scenario, the CEO and the Secretary-General of Aaranyak, Dr Bibhab Kumar Talukdar flagged the unwarranted links among wildlife crimes, narco-terrorism and arms smuggling which has posed a grave threat to the national security and that the country’s biodiversity-rich frontier Northeast region is precariously poised under such an adverse circumstance. He, therefore, stressed on the need for synergy among various enforcement agencies, forest, police, security forces and judiciary in combating the global menace called wildlife crimes.