SC to hear plea against declaring Nilgai, monkeys as vermins

New Delhi: A plea has been filed in Supreme Court seeking quashing and interim stay of three notifications of the Centre declaring Nilgai, monkey and wild boar as vermins for one year in the states of Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

The plea for urgent hearing was mentioned before the vacation bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and L Nageswara Rao, which agreed to list the matter during the week.

Senior advocate Anand Grover appearing for the petitioner animal activist Gauri Maulekhi said the Centre does not have power to issue such notification. He said that people were being hired for mass killing of these three animals which have been declared as vermins.

The first notification of Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change dated December 1, 2015, declared Nilgai and wild boar as vermin in some districts of Bihar for one year.

The second notification of the ministry dated February 3, 2016, declared wild boar as vermin in some districts of Uttarakhand for a one-year period. The third notification, issued on May 24, 2016, declared rhesus macaque (monkey) to be vermin in some districts of Himachal Pradesh.

"The impugned notifications have been passed in absolute disregard of the human-wildlife conflict plaguing the country and without any scientific survey backing them," the plea said.

It said that once an animal is declared vermin, it is deprived of the protection provided to wild animals by the Wildlife Protection Act.

"The State is no longer responsible for safeguarding the life and well-being of such animals. The indiscriminate killing of these animals will have a detrimental effect on the food chain and in turn lead to an ecological imbalance," the plea said.

It said the provisions of the Act "authorises the government to permit mindless slaughter of protected wildlife without any inquiry or investigation into the need for declaring protected species of wildlife as vermin for purpose of slaughter."

It further said "Section 62 of the Act, therefore, is an expressly arbitrary power providing the government with unfettered discretion and allowing issuance of arbitrary orders with no application of mind. Section 62 is in complete violation of Article 14 of the Constitution and hence unsustainable".

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