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Madras HC sought responses from Karnataka and Kerala Governments on their delay in nominating nodal officers to assist SIT in probing elephant deaths

Madras HC sought responses from the Karnataka and Kerala government on their delay in nominating nodal officers for Special Investigating Team (SIT) to look after the recent drastic increase in wildlife offences. Further, earlier this year, the court clarified on the constitution of team, which comprisesCentral Bureau of Investigation (CBI), state police and forest department officials, to probe into cases relating to elephant poaching and other forest crimes, which were recently reported in the areas of western ghats. Also, it was noticed that the poachers were committing crimes in Tamil Nadu and escaping to the nearby states of Karnataka and Kerala.

The bench of Justice N Satish Kumar and Justice Bharatha Chakravarthyhave asked both of the states to submit the nominations by December 22. Further, the court was disappointed with the state’s response, promising to shortly appoint the nodal officer. The court pointed to the directions, which were issued back in April, and the state’s inability to nominate during this span of time.

The court then asked IFS officer Prakriti Srivastava and Adv. Shweta Krishnappa, who were representing the states of Kerala and Karnataka respectively, “When will you do it? What is the difficulty? Do you not have capable officers? and told them to not simply appear on VC asking for an extension in nominating.

Further, the court directed to reduce the speed of trains to 30 kmph at night while running between the tracks of Palakkad and Podanur to reduce the odds of hitting elephants at night. In reply to what the court said, Adv. PT Ramkumar (standing counsel for the Southern Railway) objected to the technical infeasibility, which was denied by the court mentioning the equal importance of animals and human lives. Concluding with, the court mentioned banning night traffic altogether if the speed of trains continues to be the same.

Case Name: S Manoj Immanuel v Union of India and Ors.

Case Number: WP (MD) 19971 of 2018

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