Whistle-blowers Rewarded by Court of Law :
An exemplary steps – encouraging nature-lovers
If you have confidential information regarding wildlife crime, you may be entitled to a monetary reward from the Indian Court of Law. Wildlife laws in the India, such as the Section 60 (A) of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, include reward conditions that direct to pay individuals who renders assistance in detection of the offence and apprehension of the offenders that leads to successful enforcement action. If someone provides a tip about a wildlife crime they see happening, they may be eligible for a monetary reward for disclosing that information to law enforcement.
Reward by court of laws have become an important method for exposing wrong doings. In curbing wildlife crime, rewards can play a key role in contributing to a successful prosecution. Many do not realize that if you report wildlife crime to the Forest Departments/ Police, you may be entitled to monetary rewards when the information contributes to a successful prosecution. However, getting this kind of whistleblowers to come forward is difficult, especially since many are unfamiliar with the laws and necessary processes. Reward from a court of law will go a long way to encourage the public/ sincere Forest Officials/ Police in detection of wildlife crime and apprehension of wildlife offenders.
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, was amended in 1991 and section 60 (A) was inserted where court has power to reward a person who renders assistance in the detection of the offence or the apprehension of the offender out the fine imposed, upon the convict , not exceeding 50 percent of the fine. As per sec 60 (B), inserted in 2003, the Government has similar power. Sub section(1) of Section 60 (A) of The Wildlife (protection) Act, 1972, reads as follows – – – – “ When a Court imposes a sentence of fine or a sentence of which fine forms a part, the Court may, when passing judgement, order that the reward be paid to a person who renders assistance in the detection of the offence or the apprehension of the offenders out of the proceeds of the fine not exceeding fifty percent of such fine”.
The object and wisdom of the Indian Legislature was to inspire, encourage and to provide moral boost to those who render assistance in detection of the offence or apprehension of the offenders in Wildlife Cases. The wisdom of the legislature is honored by an Assam (India) Judge after 26 years of insertion of the said aim of the legislature.
Earlier conviction for Wildlife Crimes in Assam was very low and trials were also in the normal speed. The acceleration of prosecutions follows after a notification dated November 28, 2016 of Honorable Gauhati High Court setting up ten fast-track courts specializing in Wildlife Crimes in the districts of Golaghat, Jorhat, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Cachar, Darrang and Udalguri where most of the State’s Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries are located. Honorable Gauhati High Court designating the senior most additional sessions judge in the aforesaid 10 (ten) districts for faster disposal of cases under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and other offences related to forests, which can be tried in a Sessions Court. The high court notification states that if any district does not have an Additional Sessions Judge, the Sessions court can become a fast-track court for Wildlife Crimes.
On World Wildlife Day i.e.on 3rd March 2017, the first of this kind of landmark judgement was recorded by courts in India on reward. Additional District & Sessions Judge, Sonitpur, Darak Ullah convicted accused Raju Bosumotary with RI for one year and fine of Rs 10000/- in default SI for 3 months u/s 51 of Wildlife (P) Act, in Sessions Case no 185/15. The most encouraging and rare attitude of the court is reflected in the judgement when the court ordered to pay Rs 4800/- , out of the fine amount if paid, to the forest patrolling party, consisting 12 persons , u/s 60 (A) of wildlife (P) Act, for their assistance in detection of the offence and offender.
Another three judgments by Additional District & Sessions Judge, Sonitpur, Darak Ullah on rewards are as follows:
1) Sessions Case no 291/16 dated 4-5-17 : Convicted accused Mathur Bosumotary with RI for Six month and fine of Rs 10000/- in default SI for 3 months u/s 51 of Wildlife (P) Act. The most encouraging and rare attitude of the court is reflected in this judgement also, when the court ordered to pay Rs 4500/- , out of the fine amount, if paid, to the forest patrolling party consisting 15 persons ,u/s 60 (A) of wildlife (P) Act, for their assistance in detection of the offence and offender.
2) Sessions case No.373/15 dated 2-6-17 : Convicted the accused Budhilal Soren vide judgment dated 2-06-17 sentencing him RI for 6(six) months and fine of Rs. 12000/ i/d S.I for 3(three) months for the offence u/s 51 of Wildlife (P) Act. The court has held that the detection of the offence and apprehension of the offender was due to the assistance of the patrolling team consisting the 13 members comprising Forest Range Officer, Forester-I, Forest Guard, Assam Forest Protection Force Battalions and Home Guards and they were ordered to be rewarded as per Section 60(A) of the Act, out of the fine amount, imposed upon the convict.
3) Sessions case No.71/12 dated 19-6-17 : Convicted one Gopal Mondol and sentenced him R.I for 7 (seven) years and fine of Rs. 50000/- in default R.I for six month u/s 51 of Wildlife (protection) Act, 1972, for illegal possession of molar teeth of Elephant. Police on 07-01-12 had recovered the molar teeth from the accused at Ghogra Tinali during checking while he was coming in a bus from Batasipur side towards Dhekiajuli. The court has also passed order that an amount of Rs 5000/- ,out of the fine amount, if paid, be paid to police officer Sahabuddin Ahmed as reward u/s 60 (A) of Wildlife (P) Act for his assistance in detection of the offence and detention of the offender.
The court of Darak Ullah, Additional District & Sessions Judge, Sonitpur, Tezpur, re-visited the law of compensation to include, “ Government” and “ The Chief Wildlife Warden “ under the meaning of “ person ”as mentioned in the law of section 357(1) and section 357(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
The Court says that, in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, the term “person” is not defined. Whereas the Indian Penal Code as well as Wildlife(Protection) Act 1972, have also not defined the term “person” but the Indian Penal Code , in Section-11, stated that the word “person” includes any Company or Association or Body of persons whether incorporated or not. Similarly Section 2(24) of the Wildlife(Protection) Act 1972, says that “person” includes a Firm. While convicting the accused person Lakhiram Tudu today i.e on 10-08-17, in Sessions Case No 20/2016 U/S 51 of the Wildlife Act , 1972, the court imposed compensation of Rs 10,000/-U/S 357(3) of Cr.P.C, along with the imprisonment , to be paid to the Government for the damage of Wildlife habitat which is a loss to the government.
The order will definitely convey a message to deter such offenders. Will the other judges dealing with the justice-system of Wildlife protection in the country too follow the path shown by this Assam Judicial Service(AJS) officer to encourage the protectors of wildlife in the country. Thus at the same time to honour the wisdom of Legislature as reflected in section 60(A) of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 (amended in 1991) in true spirit. The exercise of the power of court in existing good Indian law, by Assam (India) Judge will, certainly, act as a catalyst for the wildlife defenders. Can’t the wildlife lovers make a rejoice!!
(Details of all Sessions cases is available in http://sonitpurjudiciary.gov.in/ )