Jabalpur/Bhopal: A two-Judge Bench of Jabalpur High Court presided by Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and comprising Justice Anil Verma has allowed petitioner Ajay Dubey to file an application to amend the original petition challenging the formation of the Madhya Pradesh Wildlife Board by the previous state Government headed by Kamal Nath since the present BJP Government has disbanded that Board and constituted a new one.
The High Court has given 4 weeks time to the petitioner to make the application for amendment in the petition. The original petition pointed to gross violation of the provisions for nomination of members in the State Wildlife Board under the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
Aditya Sanghi, the counsel for petitioner Ajay Dubey submitted during the hearing on Saturday through video conferencing that the respondent, i.e., State had passed a fresh order re-constituting the Board on 20 November 2020.
Another petition filed by senior journalist and eminent environmentalist Lalit Shastri in the same matter is also linked with the petition filed by Ajay Dubey. Shastri’s counsel in this case are Praveen Kumar Pandey and Suman Dubey.
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Bhopal: The reconstitued Madhya Pradesh State Wildlife Board, notified on 3 August 2019, is in the midst of a raging controversy at the very outset as there is no dearth of charges regarding flouting of mandatory requirements when it comes to the nomination of members to this high powered body under the Wildlife Protection Act.
RTI activist and Wildlife expert Ajay Dubey has raised serious objections and written a letter to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath urging him to disband the reconstituted Wildlife Board. His demand is that rules should be framed first and a new Board should be constituted within the legal framework. If the Government fails to rectify its mistake, he would be compelled to approach the Court, Dubey has categorically stated.
In his letter to the Chief Minister delivered on the eve of “Adivasi Divas” ( 9 August 2019 – a day devoted to the Scheduled Tribes and declared as a holiday by the State Government), Dubey has highlighted a string of illegalities and urged the government to demonstrate its will to protect wildlife and safeguard the interests of the forest dwellers by disbanding the present body and replacing it with a new one.
Under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, it is mandatory since 2003 for both the Central Government and the State Governments to set up a Wildlife Board for the protection of wildlife.
Under Section 6 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, the Central Government had duly formulated the rules and constituted the National Wildlife Board in 2003, but the Madhya Pradesh Government did not make the necessary rules under Section 64 of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 and has been constituting the Wildlife Board constinuously since 2003 and this is against the law of the land.
I have formally requested successive governments on numerous occasions to correct this serious legal error, but till date the state government has not bothered to act in this matter.
Your government recently on 3 Augsut 2019 has reconstituted the MP State Wildlife Board in the absence of the necessary rules, which is not only illegal but also against the interests of forest dwellers, the biggest protectors of forest and wildlife.
Unfortunately, your government has discriminated against the forest dwellers by not inducting those from the Scheduled Tribes among the non-official members in this reconstituted board.
Under Section 6 (1) (E) of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, the State Government is required to nominate10 non-official members who have to be eminent persons working in the sphere of wildlife conservation. It is mandatory under the Act, that two of these 10 members should be from the Scheduled Tribes.
The absence of members of the tribal community among the 10 non-official members shows the insensitivity of the rulingCongress party towards the tribal society.
As per the provisions of the Act, the State Government has nominated 3 MLAs in the Board and 2 of these are ST MLAs. But this does not fulfiill the compulsory requirement of having a minimum of 2 ST members among the 10 non-official members. Even earlier, State Forest Department had earlier written a letter to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) regarding the appointment of 2 ST non-official members and had underscored the mandatory requirement in this matter.
It is also necessary to inform you here at this juncture that your government has made 2 members in the reconstituted State Wildlife Board only due to “interest” in wildlife which is unfair according to the law because the member has to be an eminent and reputed personality in the field of wildlife conservation.
Your government has nominated a member of the board whose family members have illegally captured land of tribal society near Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve and confirmed it in the report of former Shahdol division commissioner. You should investigate it.
Your government has made a controversial person a member of the Wildlife Board. Last year who was found moving inside the Ranthambore Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan flouting the riules. He was caught on camera trap and his photograph also went viral. The photo is attached and the matter should be investigated.
Your government selected most of the non-official members from outside Madhya Pradesh and made a retired IFS officer as member who has been posted outside Madhya Pradesh / country for the last 15 years. These members are not aware of the ground reality of Madhya Pradesh.
Your government has expressed insensitivity towards managing the problems of conservation of future forests and wildlife of Madhya Pradesh by appointing aged persons as non-official members of the Board.
I have come to know that the Forest Department had presented to you the list of people associated with wildlife conservation for the State Wildlife Board, but bypassing it, due to political and personal interests, the Chief Minister’s office selected unqualified people against the rules.
I would like to inform you that I had received a request from the Forest Department for nomination for the post of non-official member in the State Wildlife Board but I politely declined it.
It is necessary to inform you that I have been working for the last 20 years for the protection of forests, environment and wildlife.
Respected Chief Minister, please dissolve the illegal State Wildlife Board immediately and make rules under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 to reconstitute the board by inducting duly qualified and eminent persons in it. If your government fails to take the necessary steps in this direction, then I will be forced to go to the court.
On the eve of International Tribal Day, please take necessary steps to improve the working and the thought process of the forest department towards the tribal society.