Kerala seeks time from Madras HC to decide on nominating officials to SIT – The Hindu

Chennai News

The court proposed a team to probe wildlife and forest offences reported in Tamil Nadu

The court proposed a team to probe wildlife and forest offences reported in Tamil Nadu

The Kerala government on Friday obtained time till April 21 from the Madras High Court to take a call on nominating its officials to a special investigation team (SIT) proposed to be constituted by the court to probe high-profile forest and wildlife offences reported in Tamil Nadu.

When a related case was listed before a Division Bench of Justices V. Bharathidasan and N. Sathish Kumar, Special Government Pleader (Forests) Nagaraj Narayanan, representing the Kerala government, said the issue had to be discussed at the highest level of the government.

Mr. Nagaraj Narayanan said the investigation in all 18 elephant poaching cases reported in Kerala had been completed and charge sheets had been filed against the accused before the jurisdictional courts. As of now, no case of elephant poaching was pending investigation.

Further, the Kerala government in November 2020 withdrew the general consent accorded for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe within its territory. Therefore, the issue of State officials being part of the SIT, which would comprise CBI officials, had to be discussed at the level of the Chief Secretary, he said.

Allaying Kerala’s apprehensions, Justice Bharathidasan said the SIT had been proposed only to probe forest and wildlife offences that had been reported within Tamil Nadu. Since most of the poachers were from Kerala, the court wanted officials from the neighbouring State to be a part of the team for extending assistance.

The judge recalled that the court had initially entrusted the job of cracking those cases with the CBI, but it was unable to solve many cases for want of assistance from the police, forest and other authorities in Kerala. Therefore, it was decided to constitute a team comprising officials from Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the CBI.

“We must understand that wild animals have no boundaries. It’s we, the humans, who draw lines. A tiger roaming around in the forests in Tamil Nadu today might be seen in Kerala tomorrow. Therefore, a collective effort is required on our part to solve offences related to those animals,” the judge observed.

He also made it clear that if the Kerala government still had any apprehensions, the court would go ahead and constitute a team comprising officials from Tamil Nadu and the CBI alone since both had nominated their members.