Forest dept workshop for higher conviction rate of poachers

The Forest Department has invited the judicial officers for an interface on wildlife crime to convey the need for higher conviction rate and quick disposal of pending cases to serve as a strong deterrent for poachers.

The two-day workshop at Utthan Academy of Bhayander in Mumbai will start on January 19.

Among those who will attend the meet will be Chief Justice of the bombay High Court Mohit Shah, Chief Secretary J K Banthia, Principal Secretary (Forest) Pravin Pardeshi, senior Forest department officers, Director of Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) Belinda Wright, WPSI Central India director and the country's leading wildlife crime expert Nitj Desai besides a host of other experts.

"Twenty judicial officers from 20 sensitive wildlife places will participate in the brainstorming on the seriousness of wildlife crime," according to Pardeshi.

This is the first time that the judiciary is being involved in a programme with wildlife crime as focal theme.

Desai said, "Wildlife crime cases get dragged on for various reasons including lack of proper system to distinguish wildlife cases from police cases. Wildlife cases are complaint cases unlike police cases that are chargesheet cases. Long pendency of wildlife cases diminishes the deterrent value of wildlife crime laws. If the judiciary plays a proactive role, it will go a long way in curbing the menace."

Desai added, "The judicial officers will be sensitised on provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) and on where the executive and the judiciary need to get their act together."

A field visit has also been organised for judicial officers as part of the programme.

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