A Division Bench of Chief Justice Thottathil B. Radhakrishnan and Justice Arijit Banerjee of Calcutta High Court took suo moto cognizance of the Endangered Birds Smuggling and trading of endangered species of birds in the State.
The matter was taken up on the basis of a newspaper report that ‘exposed the tip of an iceberg’ regarding the ‘cruel intrusion’ into the life birds.
The Court was informed that birds like Tia, Moyna, Chandana and Pahari Moyna are smuggled from North Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and are traded to cities like Kolkata and Delhi, especially during winters.
The Bench has decided to address the following issues including Smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds, To fix the responsibility for such Endangered Birds Smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds and pass necessary directions upon the appropriate authorities to ensure that no Endangered Birds Smuggling and illegal trading of endangered species of birds, take place and the violators are taken to task on a war footing.
During the course of hearing, the counsel stated that in order to effectively deal with the issue at hand, the provisions of Schedule VII, List III [Concurrent List], Entry 17B of the Constitution of India may be resorted to that speak of protection of wild animals and birds.
In addition thereto, he submitted, Articles 48A and 51A(g) of the Constitution speak of protecting, improving forests and wildlife.
He also made a reference to the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 which was enacted by the Parliament with an aim to conserve animals, birds, plants and the matters connected therewith.
Giving a painful account of how these birds are trapped, the counsel appearing for the Regisrar General of the High Court, Saikat Banerjee, submitted in this matter of Endangered Birds Smuggling,
“A staggering number of birds are cruelly smuggled in various places, in appalling conditions. Birds are trafficked stuffed and suffocated in the piping of suitcases, PVC pipes. They are stuffed in socks, crammed in shoes and their beaks are taped shut. To catch wild parrots, the hunters take two of them as bait and puncture their eyes. These blind and wounded birds are then left on a sheet, where they cry out for help. Soon hundreds of birds will come for help. As soon as they descend, the hunters throw a sheet or chaadar over them and capture them.
It was also submitted that on Tuesday (December 1) itself, more than 300 Tia and at least 25 hilly Moyna birds were recovered by the forest officers from a bus on Durgapur Expressway.
In view of the above, the Bench was convinced that “Larger scale capturing of birds using weapons or otherwise and also bringing birds to captivity beyond those permissible under the law, is clearly demonstrated in the suo motu petition.“
It has therefore issued notices to 14 relevant authorities in this matter of Endangered Birds Smuggling.
The Bench said that having regard to the importance and emergent situation arising in the matter, it will be dealt with on an urgent basis.
The matter of Endangered Birds Smuggling has now been listed for hearing on December 8, 2020.
Read the order here: