The Supreme Court on Monday asked the animal rights organisations to make representations before the Centre regarding three notifications declaring Nilgai, monkeys and wild boars as vermins, with the Animal Welfare Board of India terming it as an “arbitrary” decision.
The board, which is an statutory advisory body on animal welfare laws and promotes animal welfare in India, questioned the notifications issued by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change declaring these animals as vermins for one year in the states of Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
“The arbitrariness is there. We have seen the video. There has to be a basis. How can the Ministry do this? There has to be compassion towards animals,” the lawyer appearing for the board told a vacation bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and A M Khanwilkar.
However, Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar said the board has not challenged these notifications.
The bench said it would hear the contentions of the board when the main matter is heard.
The bench, which refused to issue notice on the petitions, asked the Centre to consider the representations within two weeks and take appropriate steps as required.
During the hearing, the bench posed several queries to the petitioners on whether these notifications specifically talk about forest areas.
“Prohibition (on hunting) will apply to forest area or animal habitat and not outside that. Absolute prohibition applies to animal habitat only. You cannot hunt them in their home. Suppose they are found outside their habitat, then how to deal with it,” the bench asked.
Responding to the query, senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, who appeared for one of the petitioners, referred to killing of Nilgais in Bihar and said “there are scientific ways to deal with such situations. Wild animals cannot be killed like this.”
The first notification issued by the ministry dated December 1, 2015, declared Nilgai and wild boar as vermin in some districts of Bihar for one year.
The second notification dated February 3 this year declared wild boar as vermin in some districts of Uttarakhand for a period of one year, while the third notification, issued on May 24 declared rhesus macaque (monkey) to be vermin in some districts of Himachal Pradesh.