Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], February 26 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea seeking initiation of contempt of court proceedings against Maharashtra Chief Secretary Vikas Kharge and other state officials for announcing reward to people who had killed 'Avni', an adult tigress who had allegedly killed 13 people in the Yavatmal district in 2018.
A bench headed by the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said, "We understand its a serious issue but we cannot interfere."The Chief Justice said that in an earlier litigation, the decision to kill the tiger was given by the court as the tigress was proved to be a man eater. "The state government has submitted a report in this regard which was accepted by the court," said the bench.
"We cannot review the decision and say it was not a man-eater. The state officials in their reply said that the celebration after the tigress' death was done by villagers. Officers have stated on oath that they did not celebrate the killing of the tigress," the Bench said.
Earlier, the Bench had issued a notice to Chief Secretary Vikas Kharge and others on a contempt petition filed by wildlife researcher Sangeet Dongra, who said that the reward was granted flouting court directions.
The apex court had observed that the petition raised an "important point" regarding the flouting of court orders prohibiting awarding of rewards to persons who kill wild animals and issued contempt notices.
The petition has sought initiation of contempt of court proceedings against Kharge, AK Mishra Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, KM Abharna Deputy Conservator of Forest Pandharkawada, Anup Nayak Additional Director General for Project Tiger and Member Secretary of National Tiger Conservation Authority.
During the earlier hearing, Dogra in her plea sought action against those responsible for presenting misleading documents in the form of a false affidavit before the Court in 2018 which convinced the court that Avni is a man-eating tigress when her post mortem report revealed that she is not a man eater.
In 2018, the Supreme Court had permitted the killing of Avni, officially known as T1, if the attempts to tranquillize her fail. It further had directed that no prize or incentive should be declared for any person responsible for the killing of the tigress. Avni was killed in November 2018 and several wildlife activists termed it a 'state-sponsored fake encounter'. (ANI)