Efficacy of Wildlife Protection Laws in India

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The meaning of the word wildlife is that fauna and the flora of a region. In India wildfire is a very important part of the environment. But people don’t take care of their environment and wildlife anymore and there was a need for the law to be applicable. The pollution that we cause affects animals and plants. So there is a need to protect the plants and animals, and this law helps in keeping that protection. We are going to see a few cases of laws in which the efficacy of wildlife protection laws in India is seen. In India, the laws relating to wildlife protection are The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972, The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and The Indian Forest Act, 1927.

In the case of the State Of Kerala And Anr vs The Gwalior Rayon Silk, this case talks mostly about the India Forest Act,1972. In this case, any forest not owned by the Government, to which the Madras Preservation of Private Forests Act, 1949, did not apply, including wastelands which are enclaves within wooded areas; concerning the remaining areas in the State of Kerala, any forest not owned by the Government, including wastelands which are enclaves within wooded areas.” Section 3 is important. “Private forests to vest in Government(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, or in any contract or other document, but subject to the provisions of subsection (2) and (3), with effect on and from the appointed day, the ownership and possession of all private forests in the State of Kerala shall, under this Act, stand transferred to and vested in the Government free from all encumbrances, and the right, title, and interest of the owner or any other person in any, private forest shall stand extinguished.”

Certain Owners of vast extents of private, forests aggrieved by the deprivation, without compensation, of their own under the Kerala Private Forests (Vesting & Assignment) Act, 1971 (Act 26 of 1971) (hereinafter called, for short, the Forest Act) challenged its vires under art. 226 of the Constitution on the score that it violated their fundamental rights under arts. 14, 19 and 31 and was not immunized by art. 31A from the lethal sting of art. 13. The High Court upheld the attack and voided the statute. The defeated State has sought in appeal to sustain the constitutionality of the law while others who have suffered by the operation of the statute have come up directly to this Court under art. 32. The impugned Act vests in the State lands, flatly refusing any the littlest compensation, and the issue is whether the wings of art.31A are wide enough and the provisions of the Forest Act fair enough for the Court to grant constitutional shelter. The Forest Act survives the attack on the score of colorable legislation.

Considered in this light it is not possible to hold that S. 10 has no nexus with the agrarian settlement. Of course, the program held out in the provision, if not implemented within a reasonable time or otherwise perverted to none- agrarian purposes, may give rise to judicial skepticism about the Government’s bona fides and induce consequent remedial action. As we see it, the Forest Act is calculated to bring benefit to landless laborers, tribals and other proletarian groups in the over-populated state of Kerala. The fear that the executive win dawdles and delay unreasonably or act obliquely to defeat the agrarian welfare content of the measure may gain credibility when the scheme is not legislatively time-bound. In the present case, two years for reserving foresters and distributing the rest is written into the statute itself. If the State, for ulterior ends, prevaricates or betrays the scheme by non-implementation an aggrieved party may seek relief through a judicial post-audit. [1]

In the next two cases, we will talk about the Forest Conservation act and how the laws have helped in the protection. In the case of In Tarun Bharat Sangh, Alwar v. Union of India and others, the Court held that once an area is declared as protected forest, it becomes forest within the meaning of Section 2 of the 1980 Act.”Once an area is declared as a protected forest, it comes within the purview of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. It becomes a forest land within the meaning of Section 2. The effect of this position is that no non-forest activity can be carried on in the said area except with the prior approval of the Central Government. Even the State Government cannot carry on any such non-forest activity in the said area without such prior approval.

That the mining activity amounts to non-forest purpose is beyond dispute. Thus, the grant of mining leases/licenses and their renewal by the State Government, without obtaining the prior approval of the Central Government, in respect of the mines situated within the protected forest, after January 1, 1975, is contrary to law. According to Rule 4(6) of the Rajasthan Minor Mineral Concession Rules, 1986 too, no mining lease could have been granted or renewed within the forest “without clearance from the Central Government under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and the rules made thereunder”. Admittedly, no such prior approval or clearance of the Central Government was obtained. The Chairman of the committee, Shri Justice M.L. Jain has recommended that 215 mines mentioned in Appendix `A’ to his report, which is situated wholly within the protected forest should be closed forthwith. There can hardly be any valid objection in law to the said recommendation. To this recommendation also, there can be no valid objection in law.”[2]

In the case of In T.N. Godavarman Thirumulkpad v. Union of India and others, this Court adverted to the misconception entertained in certain quarters about the true scope of the 1980 Act and the meaning of the word “forest” used therein and held: “The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 was enacted to check further deforestation which ultimately results in ecological imbalance; and therefore, the provisions made therein for the conservation of forests and matters connected therewith, must apply to all forests irrespective of the nature of ownership or classification thereof. The word “forest” must be understood according to its dictionary meaning. This description covers all statutorily recognized forests, whether designated as reserved, protected or otherwise for Section 2(i) of the Forest Conservation Act. The term “forest land”, occurring in Section 2, will not only include “forest” as understood in the dictionary sense, but also any area recorded as forest in the Government record irrespective of the ownership. This is how it has to be understood for Section 2 of the Act. The provisions enacted in the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 for the conservation of forests and the matters connected therewith must apply clearly to all forests so understood irrespective of the ownership or classification thereof.[3]

In the case of M/S. Ivory Traders And vs Union Of India And Others in this are we going to see the regulation of wildlife protection act. Since there is hardly any market within the country for wild animals or articles and derivatives thereof, the stocks acquired for trade within the country are smuggled out to meet the demand in foreign markets. This clandestine trade is abetted by illegal practices of poaching which have taken a heavy toll on our wild animals and birds. The stocks declared by the traders at the commencement of the Wild Life (Protection) Act. 1972 are still used as a cover for such illicit trade. Attempts to acquire the declared stocks of skins of some wild species have also not met with the desired success, mainly because most traders are not inclined to part with their stocks and thereby lose the ploy for illegal activities.

It is, therefore, necessary to suitably amend the Act to prohibit trade in certain specified wild animals or their derivatives. It is wild animals or their derivatives. It is, therefore, proposed to provide that no one will be permitted to trade in wild animals specified in Schedule I or Part II of Schedule II of the Act. The Union of India has maintained that despite the ban on the killing of the Indian elephant its poaching continues and the traders are dealing in ivory extracted from Indian ‘elephant’ under the garb and facade of imported ivory resulting in the depletion of its population. Therefore, to stop the killings of Indian elephants, it was necessary to ban all trade in imported ivory. [4]

In conclusion, the wildlife laws which came into the picture for protecting the flora and fauna are very effective and are very useful as they are keeping our flora and fauna alive. We can say that through the cases that the laws in India have efficiently protected the flora and fauna of the country.

For Important Case Laws of Environmental Law, Click Here.

For more articles on Environmental Law, Click Here.

For law notes, Click Here.


[1] 1973 AIR 2734, 1974 SCR (1) 671

[2] [1993 Supp (3) SCC 115]

[3] [(1997) 2 SCC 267]

[4] AIR 1997 Delhi 267 b, ILR 1997 Delhi 22

Author Details: Priyanka Mane

The views of the author are personal only. (if any)

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