Supreme Court to hear contempt plea on tigress Avni killing today
The Supreme Court on Friday will take up a contempt petition filed by a wildlife enthusiast seeking contempt of court proceedings against officials of Maharashtra government over the manner of killing tigress Avni in November 2018.
Earlier this month, the top court had issued notices on the contempt petition filed by one Sangeeta Dogra. The petition claimed that Maharashtra government officials violated the SC order to declare no reward for killing the man-eater tigress Avni.
A three-judge bench headed by CJI SA Bobde will take up the petition on Friday. Maharashtra government officials are expected to appear in person through videoconferencing.
The court had issued contempt notices to principal secretary, Maharashtra, Vikas Kharge, principal chief conservator forests (Nagpur), deputy conservator of forests, Pandharkawada district, and member secretary, National Tiger Conservation Authority.
Raising questions over the procedure followed in shooting down the tigress, Dogra pointed out that the big cat’s post-mortem report revealed that she was not a man-eater.
Dogra stated in her petition that on September 11, 2018, the Supreme Court while permitting Avni (T-1) to be shot down, had said, “The efforts to tranquillise and capture T-1 tigress will be continued and if unsuccessful, it shall be eliminated by shooting to avoid any further loss of human life. The chief conservator of forests, Yavatmal, is authorised to carry out the above order. He shall not declare any prize or any similar incentive for the responsible person.”
Despite the clear instruction by the court, Dogra pointed out that within days after the killing, the villagers arranged a felicitation function on November 14, 2018, and presented a silver statue of tigress along with a cash reward to the shooter involved in the killing.
“First, we need to examine your plea that the dead tigress was not a man-eater. Second, they (contemnors) flouted our order that they shall not celebrate or reward anyone for killing the tigress. We will issue notice as our order is clearly violated,” said the bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, on the previous date of hearing.
Dogra claimed that the post-mortem report did not indicate presence of nail, hair or teeth of human beings in the stomach. According to her, if the dead tigress was a man-eater, the presence of hair, nail of humans will remain for about six months. The bench asked Dogra to submit proof to this effect and adjourned the matter after two weeks.
The tigress had allegedly killed at least 13 villagers in Maharashtra’s Pandharkawda and Ralegoan regions of Yavatmal district for over one-and-a-half years. The six-year-old tigress was shot dead after a massive hunt, and her two cubs relocated.