The Forest department often blames the judiciary for lack of interest in wildlife crime cases, but when judicial officers of Chandrapur district and a judge of Bombay High Court decided to hear them out Sunday, senior forest officers skipped the scheduled interaction to serve a top boss visiting Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR).
The programme, ‘Sensitisation of judicial officers on forest and wildlife offences’, scheduled about a month ago, was held at Moharli outside TATR.
P B Varale, HC judge from Nagpur, district judge of Chandrapur Udha Thakre and 36 judicial officers attended the day-long event.
From the forest department, however, only DFO (central Cnahdrapur) Madan Kulkarni and DFO (TATR buffer) S V Madbhushi were present throughout the day.
Chief conservator of forest (Chandrapur) B S K Reddy wasn’t there, while TATR field director Virendra Tiwari, Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra GM S P Thakre and deputy director (TATR buffer) Kalyan Kumar attended the inaugural session and left to attend to S K Khetarpal, principal chief conservator of forest (planning and management).
The judges, however, didn’t make a fuss about it and took keen interest in understanding issues concerning crime against wildlife.
They pointed out several flaws in the manner in which the forest department presents cases before courts and suggested changes.
“They pointed out problems in documentation of cases and in following judicial processes in matters of confiscation of material, regularly attending hearings, etc, as reasons for delay or lack of proper delivery of justice,” Kulkarni said.
Asked if senior officers were present, he said, “Yes, they were, but left after some time since PCCF Khetarpal was on a visit to TATR.”
Asked why he didn’t attend the programme, Reddy said, “I am on leave, out of Chandrapur.” Tiwari couldn’t be reached for comment.