Supreme Court barges in a fight of principles and outlook that exploded in India after around 200 Blue Bulls (Nilgai) were killed in the Indian state of Bihar raising issues between the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change and animal activists in the country.
In December 2015, the state of Bihar declared the Blue Bulls (Nilgai) and Wild Boars as ‘vermin’ and granted permission to kill them for one year as they were believed to be dangerous for humans and were causing harm to crops and properties.
The Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change then issued a notification on February 2, 2016, allowing killing of Wild Boars in Uttrakhand and killing of Rhesus Macaque Monkeys in Himachal Pradesh on May 24, 2016. Along with them, the states of Maharashtra and Telangana also issued orders to kill Wild Boars.
Conflict arose between women and child development minister and animal activist Maneka Gandhi and the environment minister Prakash Javadekar as Gandhi accused the environment ministry of having a lust to kill animals after they asked states to come up with lists of wild species, which can be declared vermin and be killed.
Vermin are the wild animals, which are believed to be harmful to humans, crops, farm animals or carry diseases. An animal is deprived of the protection under Wild Wildlife Protection Act after being declared as vermin.
While according to Prakash Javadekar, he is only helping farmers by issuing these orders, Maneka Gandhi questions the human-centric move of shooting the animals.
Supreme Court to hear plea
Animal activist and protégé of Maneka Gandhi, Gauri Maulekhi, filed a petition against the decision of the centre and on June 15, the Supreme Court agreed to examine the validity of decisions to allow killing of Nilgai and Wild Boar in Bihar, Rhesus Macaque Monkeys in Himachal Pradesh and Wild Boars in Uttarakhand.
A bench of justices including Adarsh Kumar Goel and L Nageswara Rao agreed to hear the plea against the culling order. Advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the petitioner said that mass culling is going on in three states and pleaded the court to intervene as the decision for culling was taken without conducting any study on the danger posed by the animals to human habitat.
According to Gauri Maulekhi, the provision is illegal as it provides excessive powers to the government to mindlessly slaughter the protected animals without holding any inquiry or investigation.
According to the petition filed in the court, the impugned notifications allow the animals to be hunted by any person without any prior approval from the concerned authorities that will lead to over killing of animals and further aggravate the animal-human-conflict persisting in these states. The methods by which they can kill these animals are also not prescribed. Animals could be killed in the most brutish fashion resulting in a slow and painful death.
“The State is no longer responsible for safeguarding the life and well-being of such animals. The indiscriminate killing of these animals will have a detrimental effect on the food chain and in turn lead to an ecological imbalance,” the plea said.