Kerala High Court
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Kerala High Court: P.B.Suresh Kumar, J., directed the Chief Wildlife Warden to permit the farmers to hunt wild boars to prevent destruction of crops.

The instant petition was initiated by the agriculturists holding lands in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts. The grievance voiced by the petitioners was with regard to the destruction of the crops in their agricultural lands on account of the large scale intrusion of wild boars from the nearby forest. The case set out by the petitioners was that various steps taken by the respondents to avert the menace posed by wild boars under Section 11(1)(b) of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (the Act) did not yield any result and the petitioners were consequently put to irreparable injury and loss.

The petitioners, therefore, seek directions to the Central Government to declare wild boars as vermin in the affected areas in the State, invoking the power under Section 62 of the Act.

Noticeably, having been convinced of the grievance voiced by persons similarly placed like the petitioners, during November 2020, the State Government had requested the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India to declare wild boars as vermin in the problematic areas of the State. In terms of the provisions of the Act, if wild boars are declared as vermin, it can be hunted by the persons concerned to prevent damage to their life and property.

The proposal of the State Government aforesaid was returned by the Ministry suggesting to make use of the provisions contained in Section 11(1)(b) of the Act for the purpose of averting the menace, utilizing the services of Panchayat Raj Institutions. Again, on 17-06-2021, the State Government had taken up the matter again with the Union government to declare wild boars as vermin in the problematic areas in the State, pointing out that the various steps taken by the State Government since 2011 did not yield any result. The Central Government is yet to take any final decision on the request made by the State Government.

Under Section 11(1)(b) of the Act, the Chief Wildlife Warden is empowered, if he is satisfied that any wild animal specified in Schedule II, Schedule III or Schedule IV, has become dangerous to human life or to property including standing crops on any land, to permit by order in writing any person to hunt such animal or group of animals in that specified area.

Considering that the properties of the petitioners were under threat of the attack of the wild boars and insofar as the stand of the State Government was that the steps taken under Section 11(1)(b) of the Act to avert the said menace did not yield any result and that the only alternative to protect the interests of the farmers was to declare wild boars as vermin in specified areas in the State, the Bench passed an interim order directing the Chief Wildlife Warden to permit the petitioners to hunt wild boars in the areas where their agricultural lands were situated, as provided for in Section 11(1)(b) of the Act.[K.V.Sebastian v. State of Kerala, 2021 SCC OnLine Ker 2863, decided on 23-07-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance by:

For the Petitioners: Advocate M.S.Amal Dharsan

For the Respondents: Sudhinkumar K.,

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Division Bench comprising of B.V. Nagarathna and Jyoti Mulimani, JJ. reversed a 1993 order, holding that all titles, rights and interests of the Koladamatt over the land in question had been extinguished by a government notification which vested the land in the State Government following the Mutt’s failure to make an application to get registered as an applicant.

The land had been leased to the appellant in 1967 to run an automobile industry, with permission to put up structures on the land. The land in question is a part of a larger extant of land which was granted as a minor inam to the Mutt in 1897. However, a government notification dated 04.04.1970 notified 01.07.1970 as the date for vesting all inam lands in the State Government, following which the appellant made an application for registration of occupancy rights that was granted in an order dated 1.9.1984. The Mutt challenged this before a single judge of the High Court who allowed its writ petition and set aside the Land Tribunal’s 1984 order, and that decision had been challenged in the instant writ appeal.

The appellant contended that the Mutt lost all rights, interests and title in the land since it did not make an application for getting itself registered as an occupant as required by the Act. Therefore, they claimed that since the Mutt is not aggrieved by the Land Tribunal’s order, it does not have the locus standi to file the writ petition.

The Court observed that upon the vesting of all inam lands in the State Government, certain rights were reserved in the inamdars and tenants, but since the Inamdar did not make an application under the Act, it did not seek to claim any right or privilege under the Act since the former is sine qua non for the latter. Since the Mutt failed to file an application, all its rights under the Act stand extinguished. The Mutt had the right to raise contentions against the appellant’s application before the Tribunal and to that narrow extent, it could file a writ petition, but it otherwise had no locus standi to file the writ petition since it was not an aggrieved party and would derive no benefit from itself. The Bench also stated that the single judge erred in holding that the Act is applicable only to agricultural lands, since it could apply to non-agricultural lands such as uncultivated lands as well.

Since there was a subsisting lease of the land in question on the date of vesting and its possession was with the tenant i.e., the appellant, the holder would be the appellant and not the Mutt. Possession of inam land in the hands of the tenants despite the vesting of the land in the State Government is to confer certain rights and benefits upon them under the Act, and “the Government shall not dispossess any person of any land in respect of which he is considered prima facie entitled to be registered as an occupant.” It found that the Mutt cannot be the occupant of the private building/structures constructed on the land, and it would vest in the person who owned it immediately before the date of vesting i.e., in the appellant.

Court, therefore, stated that the lessee/appellant is entitled to registration of occupancy rights and the Mutt couldn’t claim any benefit under the Act. It set aside the order by the single judge and allowed the writ appeals.[S. M. Kannappa Automobiles v. Koladamatt Mahasamsthana, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 964, decided on 29-07-2020]