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Guilty of wildlife poaching, ex-Olympian shooter Gurbir Singh Sandhu released on 1-year probation

Acting on a complaint against the former trap shooter in October 2006, a CBI team had reportedly raided his rented flat in Sector 39 and recovered wildlife articles of protected animals and some incriminating material.

punjab Updated: May 31, 2017 21:50 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh

A local court on Wednesday released former Olympian trap shooter Gurbir Singh Sandhu, who was held guilty of poaching under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, on probation for a year. Sandhu, who recently became president of Punjab Rifle Shooting Association, is a 2001 Arjuna awardee.

The court of chief judicial magistrate Akshdeep Mahajan also imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 along with surety bonds of Rs 1 lakh on Sandhu, under section 51 of the Act.

The case was registered on a complaint by the Central Bureau of Investigation following a raid in October 2006. The charges were for poaching animals categorised in Schedule 1 and 2 of the Act. A CBI raiding team had found wildlife articles and other incriminating material at his rented flat in Sector 39. This included a pair of sambhar horns and 33 wild boar tusks, along with four video cassettes, 151 photographs and 12 rolls of negatives allegedly containing shooting adventures. The wildlife department of the Chandigarh administration first conducted an inquiry and found merit in the allegations.

The CBI had received the formal complaint from wildlife inspector RK Sharma, who said Sandhu had written to him that when he used to visit Chandigarh and stay in the Sector-39 house, he had found the articles there. Sandhu then claimed he had declared these articles to the wildlife department in 2003. After the raid, too, he said he would provide proof of declaration by October 16, 2006. But, despite several opportunities, Sandhu was unable to give an account for the seized articles, including antlers and teeth.

Sandhu, whose son Manavjit Singh is also an Olympian shooter and Arjuna awardee, had not declared eight wild bore tusks as per the prosecution.

The counsel for Sandhu had claimed that the Declaration of Wild Life Stock Rules, 2003, were not applicable and he was not required to declare the possession of wild boar tusks under the said scheme. He said Sandhu had declared 25 wild boar tusks under a “misconception” of law, hence non-declaration of the remaining eight tusks was of no consequence and did not amount to any offence.

The court, however, framed charges on November 17, 2014, but eventually only handed out probation for good conduct as punishment. Conditions of the probation, if any, would be known only after the detailed order is available.

First Published: May 31, 2017 16:35 IST