Equip forest officers adequately to fight poachers – SC

News: The Supreme Court has expressed serious concern about the absence of security for forest officials in the country against poachers.

Facts:

  • Background: A petition was filed in the apex court challenging the prosecution launched against few forest officers in Rajasthan. The petitioner submitted that the FIRs against the forest officials were a ‘counter-action’ for their action taken against poachers.

Key Observations made by the Supreme Court:

  • The central government should provide weapons and bulletproof vests and vehicles to the officials as India accounted for 30% of fatalities among forest rangers in the world(highest in the world).
  • Centre should consider involving premier organisations such as the CBI to help the forest staff. There should even be a separate wing or wildlife division in the Enforcement Directorate with clean officials to track and investigate crimes of the poachers and the proceeds of their crime.
  • The court noted that states such as Assam and Maharashtra have deployed armed guards to protect forest officers and no one dares come near them.

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