Special Courts on card to exclusively try forest offences

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Sep 2018 11:02:57


By Ramesh Marulkar,

Forest Department will set up a committee in the next couple of days to study the issue of establishment of special courts for trial of forest offences exclusively. During his presentation in the State-level conference of IFS officers held at Chitnavis Centre, Civil Lines, this week, Tasneem Ahmad, retd Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (P&M), made out a case for setting up of special courts of the ‘Judicial Magistrate First Class’ under Section 11 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure to exclusively try offences committed under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and those under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. He wanted to start the special courts in local areas in Nagpur, Amravati and Chandrapur Forest Circles.

Ahmad expressed his confidence that such a measure would lead to fast disposal of criminal cases filed in the courts under these acts and prove a deterrent for the offences. When contacted, Umesh Kumar Agrawal, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Head of Forest Force), who had presided over the conference, told ‘The Hitavada’ on Friday that the Addl PCCF (Protection) will head the committee with two Chief Conservators of Forest and one Divisional Forest Officer as members. There is a provision under Section 11 of CrPC that the State Government may set up a special court with the consent of the High Court for particular kind of crime.

He said that the committee would prepare a proposal in this connection for submission to the State Government for its approval. If such courts are set up then it would help in getting speedy disposal of cases, faster summery trials, expediting justice delivery mechanism, creating fear among criminals and reduction in crimes concerning forest and wildlife, Agrawal pointed out.

During the presentation, Ahmad drew attention of the participating IFS officers towards long pendency in regular courts of JMFC due to their overload, no priority to offences under these two acts for trial over other criminal cases and failure to effectively pursue the matter in courts by the complainant forest officer as a result of his transfer (change of officer-in-charge), or as a result of his engagement in other official works during long period of pendency of the case.

He also explained on other aspects such as tendency on the part of forest officers to dispose of (even aggravated) cases of forest offences by way of compounding, lack of expertise on the part of Forest Prosecutors with regard to IFA and WPLA being special acts and delay in deciding offence cases by the courts does not deter the offenders from committing forest and wildlife offences.

Ahmad concluded with the remark that in the present day scenario, most of the offences under IFA/WLPA deserve to be treated as grave in nature and species affecting the society adversely, calling for expeditious trial to impose punishment on the offenders quickly.