The MP high court has granted two more weeks to the Union government to respond to the demand of a PIL to set up a national-level committee to ensure proper description of wild animals in school textbooks, advertisements and trading materials.
Syed Ilyas, a social worker from Suhagpur village from district Hoshangabad had filed the PIL, stating that the respondents -- the Centre and State governments -- were not performing their duties under Article 48-A, 51 A(g) and 21 of the Constitution of India, since no steps were being taken to stop the wrong description of wild animals.
The PIL gives reference of general knowledge (GK) books of two private publishers. One book erroneously mentions the cheetah as the country’s national animal -- while the national animal is the Royal Bengal tiger -- while another provides a picture of a lion and asks students to identify the national animal.
Wrong information regarding other wild animals, including chinkara and barasingha, among others, is also present in such textbooks.
The petitioner of the PIL claimed that misrepresentation of wild animals are widely present in school textbooks, a postal stamp issued by the Union government and trading materials, and demanded proper monitoring of these at the national level.
Animals are also misrepresented in trading material, the PIL said, citing the example of a picture of a cheetah on a match box which is accompanied by the word ‘panther’.
Further, a postal stamp issued by the Union government carries a picture of a leopard cat, which, in English mentions the name ‘leopard cat’, while in Hindi says ‘cheetah billi’.
The petitioner’s counsel Karan Singh Thakur said that ‘cheetah’ was not the correct word in Hindi for leopard, since it was a different species altogether.
The HC allowed the prayer of the Union government, seeking some time to file a reply to the petitioner’s application.