The Supreme Court on Friday (February 26) refused to take any action against Maharashtra forest officials for killing a tigress in Yavatmal district in 2018, stating that it was done in deference to the apex court orders.
Following the court’s ruling, animal rights activist Sangeeta Dogra withdrew the petition. Dogra in her appeal had sought contempt action against officials responsible for the killing of the tigress Avni (aka T1).
The petitioner said that Avni was hunted down by a team of forest officials and a civilian hunter named Asgar Ali. The officials had allegedly feted Ali with a silver idol of a tigress after killing Avni.
“This certainly is an act of trophy hunting which was gifted through the hands of villagers…” the petition said.
During Friday’s proceedings, the state government told the top court that the tigress was killed as per the court’s earlier order and that forest officials did not participate in any event, a fact that has been corroborated by the probe report.
Chief Justice SA Bobde asked the petitioner how would forest officials be responsible, if it was was the decision of villagers to celebrate the death of the ‘man-eater’? To this Dogra said that Ali, who shot the tiger had participated in the event, and asked why was a celebration held in the first place when the probe committee hadn’t submitted its report.
Citing DNA and autopsy reports, Dogra earlier had submitted that Avni was not a man-eater, following which the top court had agreed to examine it. When asked by CJI Bobde to substantiate her claim in the last hearing, Dogra said a man-eater would have nails and hair in the intestine for six months, but Avni’s was found empty.
On Friday, the top court told the petitioner that it cannot review the decision that the tigress was a man-eater and is unlikely to reopen the case if the decision to kill the animal was confirmed by the top court.
Following this, the petitioner withdrew the case.
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