The session court of Bijni in Chirang district under Assam’s BTAD has set an example with as many as three landmark judgements with maximum punishments for poaching of wildlife in this year so far.
The three exemplary verdicts meted out in wildlife crime show how the judiciary supports wildlife conservation in the state.
No other wildlife case, even high profile ones involving rhino poaching in Assam, was able to attract such punishment in the history of Assam.
Five convicts in the three cases are sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment along with fine of Rs 50,000 under the Assam Amendment 2009 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
This has created a ripple in the newly created first addition to Manas National Park, and augments improvement of law and order situations in the region.
The court of additional session judge N. U. Ahmed has pronounced sentences in all the three judgements.
The first case which was registered last year regarding poaching of a deer in the first addition of Manas National Park. The accused was found to be guilty and convicted. The guilty was then sentenced to seven years of imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 50,000.
The second case involved poaching inside the Manas National Park with firearms. The convict was meted out the same quantum of punishment.
The third case involved poachers caught on charges of poaching mongoose, hare, dove and barbet inside the national park last year.
The judgement was given on June 17 last where both the convicts were sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs 50,000.
It is really pathetic that poor conviction rates go a long way in enhancing the moral of habitual wildlife offenders in the country.
Data from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) shows that though 2,269 people have been arrested since 2015 in poaching cases and 1,224 cases registered in various states, conviction took place in 126 cases only which stand at a dismal 10 per cent.
The extremely dismal record of convictions in the country in general and Assam in particular has been attributed to poor quality of complaint filing by forest staff, failure to provide adequate evidences in the trial court and procedural lapses.