The interpretation and implementation of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
This article deals with Wildlife Protection Act 1972. It contains interpretation and implementation of the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Where Wildlife was not considered as important to be preserved in modern India of pre independence in the ancient times the same Wildlife was considered pious and was worshipped. Where Wildlife was killed just for enjoyment purpose in the ancient period it was preserved for its benefits. Considering the importance of wildlife the government of India brought up an act for its protection named wildlife protection Act 1972. Wildlife refers to the species which are not domesticated by humans but now it also includes all the organism that exists in wild area free from human beings. This article interprets all the important sections of the Act and also discusses the drawbacks along with the implementation of it. The act did not succeed truly as people are not aware of the importance of ecological balance the act laid down the provisions but to make it success the citizens should be aware of the importance of Preservation of the Wildlife. The act is also not take seriously as the penalties for the offences are Bare minimum. The act can be made a success only when people are made aware to the ecological balance and Preservation of the Wildlife. Many projects like project tiger conservation project elephant have been brought into existence as the symbol of the implementation of this Act but the nothing significant has been done for the flora group. Increasing population is resulting in deforestation which is leading to the vanishing of many species of animals and plants and no step has been taken to prevent the same and to protect and preserve the wildlife.
Wildlife refers to the animal species which are not domesticated by humans but now it includes all organisms that exist in wild area or human free environment. Since these Wild creatures were from time immemorial being exploited by humans hence the idea of Wildlife protection was brought up. Wildlife protection means the protection of Wild creature and their natural habitat so that the natural ecosystem is maintained and balanced. The environmentalists have made a lot of efforts to protect these creatures by making people aware of it’s importance as a result of those efforts many governments of various country’s have brought up some acts or legislations for the protection and Preservation of Wild Life. Indian government has also taken steps for the Preservation and Protection of Wildlife for the same it enacted an act titled “The Wildlife Protection Act, 1972”.
History of Wildlife Protection
The idea of Wildlife protection and Preservation is the one prevalent in the developed societies. The study of Wildlife protection in India maybe divided into the following stages:-
• Pre-independence Era
Wildlife protection management is very old in India this we can say by citing the fact that many Wild creatures are associated with the Gods and goddesses of Sanatana Dharma like snake with lord Shiva, Lion with goddesses Durga, peacock with Kartikeya , swan with goddesses Lakshmi etc. This was done for the Preservation and Protection of Wild life and that was the best way to do that then. Vedas and Upanishads contain rules related to how peacefully coexist with animals. It meticulously described the plant Wildlife that surrounded the humans and uses of that plants. Many plants were called “jadiboooti” which were used by the “Vaidya” to cure diseases.
Mauryan came to India to establish their rule and for the warfare they needed elephants due to which its protection became a popular business at that time. Efforts for protection of wildlife date back to 242BC when Ashoka enacted laws for the protection and preservation of Forests, birds and animals. During Mughal period magnificent gardens, fruit orchids and tress were planted near and around their residence to make it beautiful. Although Mughals were great hunters and were fond of hunting prohibited unnecessary hunting of animals.
Britishers gave special prizes for killing tigers which led to decline in Wildlife protection this was done so that there can be more cultivation and more revenue. Many Wild animals were slaughtered for food and recreation purpose which led to decrease and decline in number of some animals.
• Post-independence Era
Wildlife protection seeing a decline in British era continued as it is as no reforms were made to protect the wildlife and to prevent the crops from getting damaged the government of the independent India issued guns freely to the farmers which led to the destruction of wildlife. Wildlife in India is in danger with the increasing population and decreasing Forests and hunting animals are vanishing greatly.
The cause of wildlife protection is laid down in various legends and history. Various scriptures, sculptures etc. contains the favourite animal of every Gods and goddesses the main motive behind including them in it was to protect and preserve them as when people will know that the God whom they pray to have a favourite animal they will for surely protect and preserve them.
Legislation passed for wildlife protection.
The earliest known efforts made for protection of wildlife was limited to few species rather than their habitat. Indian Forest Act, 1878 for the first time made an attempt to protect few patches of government owned Forests by declaring them as reserved Forests. Realising the importance of wildlife many legislations have been passed by central and state government. In the year 1972 it was made possible by the enactment of the Wildlife Protection Act to impose legal Remedies.
The whole-soul purpose of the Act is to protect the Wildlife and their natural habitat. It aims to protect flora and fauna which naturally lives in a human free environment. The act prohibits hunting of animals and harming plants that are enlisted in the act and provides for penalties if a person does anything that violates the rules of laid by the act. This was done to preserve the wildlife as it is necessary to maintain a ecological balance for the existence of creatures.
Constitutional provisions related to Wildlife.
• The 42nd amendment 1976 transferred the issue of Forests and Protection of Wild animals and birds from state list to concurrent list.
• Under Article 51A (g) it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including Forests and Wildlife.
• Article 48A of Directive Principle of States Policy mandates that the state shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the Forests and Wild Life of the country.
Important Provisions of the Act
• Section 1 states that this act may be called as the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and it shall extend to the whole of India.
• Section 2 contains various definitions such as of ‘animal’, ‘animal article’, ‘wildlife’, etc.
• Section 3 provides for the appointment of Director and other officers by the Central Government for the purpose of the Act.
• Section 4 provides for the appointment of the Life Warden and other officers by the State Government.
• Section 5A provides for the Constitution of the National Board for Wildlife, enlists it’s members and states that it will be headed by the Prime Minister as it’s Chairperson.
• Section 5C provides for the Functions of the National Board; it states that it shall be the duty of the board to promote the conservation and development of Wildlife by such measures as it thinks fit.
• Section 6 provides for the Constitution of the State Board for Wildlife, enlists its members and states that it will be headed by the Chief Minister of the state as the chairperson.
• Section 9 lays down the prohibition on hunting of wild animals specified in Schedules I, II, III and IV except as provided under section 11 and section 12.
• Section 11 provides for hunting of wild animals to be permitted in certain cases; it allows hunting of an animal if it has become dangerous to humans or got affected by a disease or disability which is beyond recovery.
• Section 12 states that the Chief Wildlife Warden may grant permission to hunt an animal for the purpose of education, scientific research, etc. after paying the prescribed fees.
• Section 17A puts a prohibition on picking, uprooting, etc. of specified plants but Section 17B grants permission for special purposes like education, scientific research etc.
• Section 17C prohibits cultivation of specified plants while Section 17D prohibits dealing in specified plants.
• Section 18 provides for the declaration of sanctuaries; Section 18A provides for the protection of sanctuaries.
• Section 27 provides for the restriction on entry in the sanctuary; it states that no person other than a public servant on duty; a person who has been permitted by the chief wild who has a right over immovable property within the limits of the sanctuary.
• Section 28 provides for the grant of permit for the purpose of investigation, photography, tourism, transaction of lawful business with any person residing in the sanctuary.
• Section 35 provides for the declaration of the National Parks .
• Section 38 gives Central Government the power to declare areas as sanctuaries and National Parks.
• Section 38A provides for the constitution of Central Zoo Authority by the Central Government and it shall consist of a Chairperson, members not exceeding ten in number and a member-secretary.
• Section 38B states that the term of the office of Chairperson and the members will be 3 years it also states that the Central Government shall remove a person from the ofiice if that person –
(a) Becomes an undischarged insolvent;
(b) Gets convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for an offence which in the opinion of the Central Government involves moral turpitude;
(c) Becomes of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court;
(d) Refuses to act or becomes incapable of acting;
(e) Without obtaining leave of absence from the authority, absent from three consecutive meetings of the authority; or
(f) In the opinion of the Central Government has abused the position of the chairperson or member.
• Section 38C states the functions of the Authority.
• Section 38L provides for the constitution of the National Tiger Conservation Authority; enlists its members and states that it will be headed by the Minister in charge of the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
• Section 38M contains the term of the members which is 3 years and also states the conditions of service which is the same as the Central Zoo Authority mentioned above
• Section 38O provides the powers and functions of the tiger conservation authority which are laying down normative standards for tourism activities, approving tiger conservation plans prepared by the state government, and ensuring critical support including scientific, IT, and legal support for better implementation of the tiger conservation plan etc.
• Section 38Y provides for the constitution of Tiger and Other Endangered Species Crime Control Bureau; it enlists the members and states that the Director of Wildlife Preservation as the head.
• Section 38Z provides the powers and functions of the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau activities, implementing obligations under the various international conventions and protocols, etc.
• Section 40 provides DECLARATION according to which any person having the control, custody, or possession of any captive animal specified in Schedule I or part II of Schedule II shall declare to the Chief Wildlife Warden the number and description of such animal or its skin horn, etc. it also states that no person other than those having the certificate of ownership shall have control, custody or possession of any such animal after the commencement of this act.
• Section 44 prohibits the dealing in trophy and animal articles without licence.
• Section 50 gives power to the Director or any other officer authorised by him in his search, arrest and detention.
• Section 51 provides for penalties ; it says any person who contravenes any provision of this act except chapter VA and section 38J or any rule or order made thereunder or who commits a breach of any of the conditions of any license or permit granted by this act shall be guilty of an offence and shall on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to twenty-five thousand rupees or with both.
• Section 55 states that no court shall take cognizance of any offense against this act on the complaint of any person other than – Director; wildlife preservation or any other person authorized on his behalf, Member-Secretary, Chief Wildlife Warden etc.
• Section 59 states that the officers mentioned in this act will be public servants within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code 1860.
• Section 61 provides the central government the power to alter entries in Schedules.
• Section 63 gives the power to the central government to make rules in matters like salaries allowances and other conditions of appointment of chairperson, members etc., the form in which and the and the time at which the annual report of the bodies mentioned in the act be prepared etc.
• Section 64 gives the power to the state government to make rules in matters which do not come in the purview of the section 63.
• Section 65 provides for the rights of Scheduled Tribes to be protected.
• Section 66 contains repeal and savings.
Implementation and current status
Many efforts have been made to implement the act so that the things laid down in the provisions could come into reality. Some steps taken are PROJECT TIGER CONSERVATION, PROJECT ELEPHANT etc.
• Project Tiger Conservation
it was launched in 1973 to maintain the population of the Bengal Tigers. It is continuing under the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and climate change. It contains the adoption of a conservation plan by the state government for the protection of tigers and the preservation of their habitat. India along with various countries like Bhutan, Russia, China, etc. entered the St. Petersburg Declaration to save the remaining tigers who are on the verge of extinction.
• Project Elephant
It is a central scheme that was launched in 1992. It proposed the formation of a National Elephant Conservation Authority under it to give financial assistance to the states for the protection and preservation of elephants. Certain elephant corridors were also identified under the act. The judicial system has also come forward for the protection of elephants. In the landmark judgement of A. RANGARAJAN v. UOI (2019) the court ordered the Tamil Nādu government to close all the illegal resorts near Nilgiris hills as there is an elephant corridor.
The major drawbacks of the acts are the mild penalties for the offences, no coverage of foreign endangered wildlife, worsening condition of wildlife in mobile zoos, and too little emphasis on the protection of plants and most probably the reason behind these drawbacks are lack of awareness of balance in ecosystem people do not know much about the balance that is required for the easy living and sustaining of the creatures people are not aware that human life also depends on these animals and plants if they will be slaughtered like this then it will affect the human life as well.
Wildlife protection and preservation is a very crucial issue considering which the government of India passed and enacted the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 but unfortunately due to lack of awareness and lack of sympathy towards the animals and plants the act did not succeed truly and did not achieve its objectives. People being insensitive towards wildlife do not preserve or protect it as they are ignorant of the fact that vanishing of wildlife can also affect the human race as the ecological balance will be disturbed so every animal and plant created by god is in some way or the other important for the well-being of the planet earth so to save this planet and human race preserving wildlife is quite important which can only be done when the humans are aware of its importance.