Calcutta High Court: The Division Bench of Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan, CJ and Arijit Banerjee, J., has taken suo motu cognizance of a newspaper report with regard to smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds.
Cruel Intrusion | Life of Flora and Fauna
The newspaper report in ‘Anandbazar Patrika’ exposed the tip of an iceberg regarding the cruel intrusion into the life of flora and fauna particularly the birds, in the wake of the winter season.
Court noticed the challenges to the beautiful fauna life owning to cruel, unethical and illegal activities, in violation of the Constitution and the laws, particularly those relating to animals and birds, were noticed.
In view of the above, requisite directions were sought to be issued by this Court.
It was also noticed that the facts affecting the environment and ecological balance would also be considered.
Counsel appearing for the High Court pointed out that birds are perceived as a symbol of freedom because of their ability to fly. For many centuries birds and their feathers have symbolized life, death, good and bad luck, the future, the past, and other signs.
The above-stated newspaper report touches the different aspects with regard to Constitutional and statutory provisions which deal with the animal life including the fauna population.
Sum and substance of the report:
“In order to effectively deal with the issue of smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds, the provisions of Schedule VII, List III [Concurrent List], Entry 17B of the Constitution of India which speaks of protection of wild animals and birds may be looked into. In addition thereto Articles 48A [Directive principles of State policy] and 51A (g) [Fundamental duties] inter alia speaks of protecting, improving and safeguarding wildlife, reading thus:
48A: The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.
51A (g): to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.”
“…The burning issue at the moment is trade in pet birds. It is very unfortunate that species, though protected, are still trafficked widely. A staggering number of birds are cruelly smuggled in various places, in appalling conditions. Birds are trafficked stuffed and suffocated in the piping of suitcases, PVC pipes. They are stuffed in socks, crammed in shoes and their beaks are taped shut. To catch wild parrots, the hunters take two of them as bait and puncture their eyes. These blind and wounded birds are then left on a sheet, where they cry out for help.”
Bench stated that thoughtful consideration needs to be given in the context of different statutory provisions which provide the support to the Constitutional salutory need to protect the birds and also to act promptly, vigorously, forcefully and effectively against the wrongdoers.
Further, the larger scale capturing of birds using weapons or otherwise and also bringing birds to captivity beyond those permissible under the law has also been disclosed in the suo motu petition.
“…migrating birds know no territorial limits and they would fly to better pastures depending upon the change of climate, availability of food and various other reasons including for their existence, procreation etc. This is part of the ecological management of the universe.”
Smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds
In Court’s opinion, the instant matter needs to be considered as the issue is necessary and expedient as the same concerns smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds and for their preservation and protection.
Hence, Bench stated that the instant matter shall stand registered and continue as Public Interest Litigation to address various issues, including the following:
“(i) smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds.
(ii) To fix the responsibility for such smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds.
(iii) To pass necessary directions upon the appropriate authorities to ensure that no smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds, take place and the violators are taken to task on a war footing.”
In view of the urgency of the matter, the same is to be posted on 08-12-2020.[Smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds, In Re., 2020 SCC OnLine Cal 2160, decided on 04-12-2020]