Sunday, February 17, 2008

1. Girraj Goyal & ors Vs The State of Rajasthan & ors
(SB Civil Writ Petition No.8888/2006)
2. Rajeev Kumawat & ors Vs The State of Rajasthan & ors
(SB Civil Writ Petition No.8450/2004)
3. Chiranji Lal Vs State of Rajasthan & ors
(SB Civil Writ Petition No. 1564/2007)
Writ Petitions under Article 226
of the Constitution of India
Date of Order: 25th May, 2007.
Mr Amin Ali
Mr Zakir Hussain
Mr Mahendra Singh
Mr MS Kachhwaha
Mr Amir Aziz
Mr Tarun Jain - for petitioners
Mr KK Sharma, Asstt Solicitor General, for UOI and National
Tiger Conservation Authority
Mr Bharat Vyas, Addl Advocate General, for the State
Ms Anjana Gosin – for Tiger Trust
Mr Raj Panjwani – for WWF
Mr GK Garg – for the intervenors
Mr Dinesh Yadav – for 'Tigers Watch'
Mr Harshvardhan – for 'Tourism & Wildlife Society of India'.
Mr RP Garg
Mr Alok Sharma
Mr R Vyas
Mr V Agrawal
Mr SN Kumawat - for applicants
Hunting has been a passion for royal families. It
was a pleasure sport for their entertainment, excitement
and collecting trophies of wild animals and, may be, to
prove their Rule over the Jungle also. The wildlife would
have almost extinguished but for the end of the Raj with
the Independence of the Country. Some protective and
prohibitory legislations had been enforced, however, the
situation remained the same. Now the pleasure 'hunting' is
sought by the tourists. Remaining finishing work is done by
the poachers. The wildlife still running for a safe shelter
for their survival and existence. The plight of the King of
the jungle can well be imagined. Vehicle owners are worried
for their employment, the tour operators for their business
and hoteliers looking horrified by empty rooms. All hopes
pinned on their business. But, where the wildlife plead for
mercy. Under such circumstances, the courts have to
intervene and come to their rescue.
In spite of all sorts of preliminary and technical
objections as usual raised by the respective parties in
such situations of claims, counter claims, blames, counter
blames and shifting of burden and responsibilities, the
courts have to evolve a balancing formula within the
parameters of protecting, prohibitory legislations.
Though, it is a matter of great debate in regard to fixing
the responsibilities and taking appropriate prohibitory and
precautionary measures at the level of Center as well as
States also and some of the issues been sub judice before
the Hon'ble Supreme Court, presently, we are concerned with
the Ranthambore National Park to the extent of preservation
of tigers and other wildlife, regulating the tourists and
vehicles in the park and other subsidiary matters.
The Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 (for short
'the Act of 1972') to provide for the protection of wild
animals, birds and plants and for matters connected
therewith or ancillary or incidental thereto with a view to
ensuring the ecological and environmental security of the
country received the assent of the President on 9.9.1972.
The Project Tiger was also conceived and established in the
year 1972-73. The Founder Director of the Project Tiger –
Dr Kailash Sankhala – had observed that the tiger is the
spirit of India, our national natural heritage species, one
we are pledged to preserve. Even a distant roar of tiger
or an alarm call of some animal announcing his presence,
charges the whole environment of the Jungle with
excitement. He further observed that the broad concept of
Project Tiger should be the commitment to the philosophy of
total environmental preservation in selected areas and
nature be allowed to play its part fully. The management
should be limited to eliminating or at least minimizing
human disturbance and the repair the damage already done by
men. Ranthambore National Park was officially brought under
the Tiger Project in the year 1980.
Initially, there have been tremendous enthusiasm
for protection of tigers and other wildlife for about 10-15
years. However, with the influx of huge amount in the
projects by the Central Government, World Wildlife Fund
(WWF) and other sources, all eyes diverted to such funds
instead of keeping watch on the safety of the tigers and
the wildlife. It was only because of creation of vested
interests that there have been phenomenal fall in the
number of tigers and other wildlife. Sariska Sanctuary is
the glaring example of the same where entire breed of
tigers have been wiped out. The authorities have failed to
find out the real fault and fix responsibility and take
appropriate action. Enquiry reports are piling in the
offices, ministries and the courts only to be covered by
dust or finished by the turmeric.
So far as Ranthambore National Park is concerned,
the first positive report with constructive suggestions was
made by Mr RS Kumat, the then Principal Secretary, Revenue
Department, Government of Rajasthan in August, 1992 in
regard to missing of tigers. The above report could have
been taken as a wake-up call, however, as the ill fate
would have it, the report appears to have been lost in the
corridors of the Secretariat and the Forest Department.
Tigers kept on missing. In Ranthambore National Park only,
47 tigers in 2004 were reduced to 26 in 2005. The
politicians, bureaucrats and the investigating agencies are
still beating the bush. The Environmentalists, nature
lovers and tourists and the public at large are just
baffled and looking at the gloomy situation with
astonishment. Though, some measures have now been taken
by the State Government and also the Central Government by
way of amending the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 in the
year 2006. Various authorities, committees, foundations and
forums have been established, however, when they will
effectively enforce the law, it is a big question to be
answered by the God only.
Initially, the petitioners had the main grievance
against the Tourism Department in interfering with the
affairs of the Ranthambore National Park, particularly,
regulating the tourists and the vehicles in the park. A
prayer had been made for a long term fix plan in this
regard with complete control of the Forest Department and
the Wild Life Authorities as has been provided under the
Act of 1972 itself. Surprisingly, it has been a very
healthy welcome gesture on part of all the parties
including vehicle owners, tour operators, hoteliers,
environmentalists, wild life organisations as also Central
Government and the State Government to pray for some
definite positive directions from this court, in the
interest of protection of tigers and the wildlife,
particularly, in Ranthambore National Park. It has become
an unfortunate tendency of the Governments and the
enforcement agencies to act only when some directions are
issued by the courts and not to take effective measures of
their own.
As per the directions issued by this Court,
various details have been submitted on behalf of the State
Government as also the National Tiger Conversation
Authority. Many proposals and suggestions have also been
put on record for assistance and convenience of the court
in deciding the issues involved.
After having considered submissions of learned
counsel for the parties, material available on record, the
provisions of the Act and the Rules thereunder, I deem it
just and proper to issue following directions so far as
Ranthambore National Park is concerned:-
1. Kumat Committee Report – The Report is a comprehensive
study of the entire situation existed at the Ranthambore
National Park. The same conditions are still prevailing.
The Committee has given some concrete proposals on each
aspect which may, with certain modifications, be accepted
by the State Government.
2. Parking Complex – There is a large chunk of land at
Sherpur Tiraha, which can be developed as a Parking Complex
after levelling and proper landscaping the entire land from
Sherpur Tiraha upto Electric Sub-Station. Apart from having
enough parking place accommodating atleast 200 vehicles
including buses, private cars, taxies, four wheelers as
also two wheelers, the Complex may also have a Tourist
Information Center and a Booking Office. Refreshment Center
with Rest Rooms should also be provided at the Complex for
convenience of the tourists as also pilgrims visiting the
Ganesh Temple. Some kiosks may also be set-up for selling
'pooja samagri' for the pilgrims. The entire Complex can
also be developed as a Tourist Center where the tourists
apart from getting all the informations and bookings may
also get some entertainment as well. If required, proper
additional land of the surrounding area may also be
acquired for the purpose.
No vehicle, private or taxi, be allowed to enter
the National Park beyond Sherpur Tiraha check point
popularly known as Mishra Darra Gate except for the
vehicles permitted to take tourists to the park or pilgrims
upto Jogi Mahal Gate. The official vehicles of the Forest
and National Park authorities are exempted from such
restriction. For other Government vehicles, special
permission of the Dy Conservator of Forest, Dy Field
Director In-charge of the National Park can be sought.
3. Nature of vehicles – Pollution free atmosphere is prime
consideration for protection of wildlife and environment of
the National Park. CNG run vehicles are ideal for such
locations. The Central Government may seriously consider
the proposal for setting up atleast one CNG outlet at Sawai
Madhopur near National Park area so as to cater for atleast
those vehicles which are allowed to enter the National Park
carrying either tourists or the pilgrims. Till such
proposal is finalsed, only petrol run vehicles can be
allowed to go beyond Sherpur Tiraha Check Post which should
be marked as Main Entry Point for all vehicles carrying
tourists and pilgrims. Number and type of vehicles to enter
the park can be decided by the Park Authorities in
consultation with the District authorities as also
Transport authorities. The prime consideration should be
the safety, security and privacy of the wildlife as far as
possible. Number of passengers, including a Driver and a
Guide, in a vehicle, in no case, should be more than 20.
The number of vehicles and the tourists visiting the
National Park can be fixed by the Park authorities. All the
vehicles allowed to enter the Park area should be duly
registered for the particular purpose and certificate in
this regard be pasted on the front screen. The vehicles
should be driven by authorised Drivers and every vehicle
should be accompanied by a properly trained and licenced
Guide. It should be the responsibility of the Driver and
the Guide to strictly adhere to the norms fixed by the Park
authorities within the Park area. If there is any violation
of any of the norms, the licence of the Driver as also the
Guide should be made liable to be cancelled after giving
one warning. The rotation of the vehicles carrying tourists
in the Park can be fixed by the authorities in consultation
with the vehicle owners. A proper register be maintained at
the entrance gate. Number of each vehicle, name of the
Driver and Guide accompanying the tourists, time of entry
and exit may be noted in the register. After due notice,
the above directions should be made effective from
4. Pilgrims visiting the Ganesh Temple – There is a very
small parking area at the Jogi Mahal Gate of the National
Park. The pilgrims go on foot upto the Ganesh Temple from
that point. The authorities may allow petrol run vehicles
as public transport to carry pilgrims upto Jogi Mahal
Gate. Public transport system be so devised that not more
than three vehicles be allowed to enter Sherpur Tiraha
Check Point every half an hour and such vehicles may be
allowed to park at Jogi Mahal Gate parking area only for
half an hour. The rotation of the vehicles may also be
fixed by the authorities in consultation with the vehicle
owners. Proper authorisation certificate for carrying
pilgrims be pasted on the front screen of each vehicle. The
rates of tickets for passengers may also be fixed by the
authorities so that the vehicle owners may not exploit the
pilgrims. All the entry tickets for the tourists visiting
the Park area and the pilgrims visiting the temple should
be issued at the Parking Complex only at Sherpur Tiraha.
The District Collector may appoint a Committee including Dy
Conservator of Forest and Dy Field Director In-charge of
the Park, District Transport Officer and the Additional
District Magistrate to fix up the modalities of rotation of
such transport vehicles and the decision of the Committee
shall be final. Directions be complied with and made
effective from 1.8.2007.
5. Parking at Jogi Mahal Gate – There is a small cramped
area outside Jogi Mahal Gate from where tourists enter the
main Park or the pilgrims go to the Ganesh Temple on foot.
The area be so developed that not more than five vehicles
be parked at a time. There may be one small Tourist
Information Center with a proper Check Post for guards and
security personnel. Entry of every vehicle reaching the
point should be duly registered in a register. No
commercial activity, whatsoever, be allowed to take place
in that area. The pilgrims may buy their 'prasad' and other
items from the Sherpur Tiraha Parking Complex only. Plastic
bags and bottles be totally banned in the entire area upto
the Ganesh temple. Smoking may be strictly prohibited not
only in the Park area but on the entire route upto the
Ganesh Temple.
6. Eco-sensitive Zone – Under the law, the eco-sensitive
zone has to be maintained and guarded strictly. All
encroachments in the eco-sensitive zone beyond Sherpur
Tiraha Check Post be removed immediately. After proper
demarcation, entire eco-sensitive zone around National Park
area be safeguarded by construction of wall or wire
fencing. There should be no leniency, relaxation or
protection of any encroachment by whosoever powerful person
within the eco-sensitive zone. All constructions, even as
per prior permission, be removed after due notice to the
party and it is expected of the Courts also not to pass ex
parte injunction orders without notice to the authorities
and verifying the facts. It has also been brought to the
notice of the Court that some of the hotels and resorts
adjoining Park boundary have opened their gates in the Park
area also. Dy Conservator of Forest and Dy Field Director
In-charge of the National Park is directed to close all
such outlets and gates immediately and remove encroachments
as well in the Park area with the assistance of the police
and local authorities.
7. Path to the Ganesh Temple – Most of the pilgrims visit
Ganesh Temple on foot from Jogi Mahal Gate. The entire path
upto the Ganesh temple be maintained properly. Necessary
sheds with drinking water facility be provided after every
30 yards on the entire steep hilly track upto Ganesh Temple
with due permission of the Archaeological Department. The
temple area may also be developed properly removing all
encroachments made there.
8. Maintenance and development of National Park
- Fencing - The entire National Park should be secured by
construction of atleast six feet high wall with proper
gates and check posts at appropriate places. The fencing be
done on priority basis so as to avoid encroachments in the
Park area as also secure safety of the wildlife animals of
the Park. The construction of high wall shall also check
illegal and unauthorised grazing in the Park area.
- Staff – There is acute shortage of staff including
Forest Guards, Cattle Guards and Rangers in the National
Park. The security has been entrusted to the Home Guards
and RAC constables along with few Forest Guards. There have
been no regular recruitment for Forest Guards for last so
many years. As per information given, there is requirement
of minimum 450 personnel including Forest Guards, Rangers
and officers for manning the entire National Park. The
State Government is directed to sanction the requisite
number of posts in each category urgently. The Chief
Wildlife Warden, in consultation with the Dy Conservator of
Forest In-charge of the National Park may send the
requisition for required number of staff for proper
sanction from the State Government and recruitment be made
as early as possible preferably within six months.
Preference in the lower cadre posts should be given to the
persons of the local area so that they may have some
affinity with their own area to protect the environment and
the wildlife in the National Park. Proper training and
regular refresher courses be conducted for every staff
member. The Forest Guards crossing the age of 45 years be
preferably given duties in the office or the gates
- Vehicles – Considering the large area covered under
the National Park very few vehicles have been provided to
the staff of the Park for patrolling and other maintenance
work. The Chief Wildlife Warden, in consultation with the
Dy Conservator of Forest and Dy Field Director In-charge of
the National Park may send the requisition for number of
vehicles required for Park. The State Government is
directed to issue sanction urgently. It may be pointed out
here that only petrol run vehicles should be provided for
all sort of duties and works within the Park area. Nonpetrol
run vehicles, if any, may immediately be replaced by
petrol run vehicles.
- Equipments to the staff – All staff members including
Forest Guards should be provided with electronic equipments
as far as possible so as to inform each and every activity
noticed by them to the Central Control Room. Some
electronic device like GPS system may also be developed so
as to locate and control all the vehicles within the Park
area. The staff should also be provided suitable weapons
for their own safety as also protection of wildlife from
the poachers.
- Finance – National Parks are duly notified under a
statute. They have to be treated as independent bodies
having complete autonomy. It has been reported that funds
are released by the National Tiger Conservation Authority,
Central Government as also other organisations for
conservation and protection of tigers specially for
Ranthambore National Park, however, the same are not fully
released by the State Government and, even if released, the
same are not properly utilised for development of the Park.
The entire financial control is kept by the State
Government. At times, the funds given to the National Park
are diverted to other schemes by the State Government on
one pretext or the other. It is, therefore, directed that a
separate account be opened in the name of Ranthambore
National Park and all funds received, from whatever
sources, should be deposited in the same account at the
disposal of the Chief Wildlife Warden as also the Dy
Conservator of Forest and Dy Field Director In-charge of
the National Park. Even the amount collected from the entry
tickets and the Eco Development Cess should be exclusively
utilised for development of the Park itself. The National
Tiger Conservation Authority as also other organisations
giving huge amount for development of the Park should have
excess to the accounts and bring it to the notice of the
higher authorities for taking action against the defaulting
officers for not utilising the amount properly in the
interest of the Park.
- Prosecution for offences under the Wildlife Act – To
check the large scale poaching as reported, there has to be
a separate prosecution wing under the Act of 1972 for every
National Park. The legal assistance from the experts can be
sought by the Prosecutors. The State Government, in
consultation with the High Court, may establish Special
Courts in certain areas for prosecution for the offences
under the Act of 1972. The investigation and trial should
be completed as expeditiously as possible preferably within
six months.
- Rewards for exceptional work under the Act of 1972 – As
provided under the Act itself, giving of rewards should be
made regular feature every year to encourage employees and
staff of the Park for protection of wildlife and
environment as well. Though, there is a limit prescribed
under the Act for giving cash reward upto Rs.10,000/-,
however, the categories may be fixed for such rewards for
protection of wildlife, protection of environment, giving
information about poachers and by apprehending them and
stopping illegal activities in the Park area. The private
organisations may also come forward for giving special
awards to the employees for their exceptional work in the
interest of the wildlife and environment.
- Shifting of villages from the Park area – Though,
proposals for shifting of villages from the Park area is
under consideration with the State Government as also the
Central Government, however, it will be just and proper
that after identifying rehabilitating area the villagers
should be shifted only after sufficient infrastructure been
developed. The compensation fixed by the government is
inadequate. It is only after providing basic infrastructure
including drinking water, electricity, roads and even
construction of houses, effective shifting of the villages
can be done. The compensation proposed is only for
displacement of the persons from one place to another. Some
small cottage industries may also be developed in the area
so that persons, so shifted, can easily earn their
- Prohibition of weapons – All sort of weapons including
firearms should be prohibited in the entire Park area
except for the weapons officially provided to the staff.
The weapons so found unauthorisedly in the Park area be
immediately confiscated and person carrying the same be
- Responsibility of the officers of the Park – Since
entire control of the National Park is given to the Chief
Wildlife Warden and Dy Conservator of Forest and Dy Field
Director In-charge of the Park, they should be made
responsible for proper protection and development of the
Park including check on poaching and illegal activities in
the Park area.
- Check on Tourists – Eco friendly Tourism is catch of
the day but tourism should not be developed in the National
Park at the cost of safety, security and discomfort for the
wildlife. Generating awareness for saving wildlife can
never be made a profit making tourist programme.
All vehicles carrying tourists in the Park area
must keep distance of atleast 30 yards from the wild
animals cited and minimum 50 yards from the cubs around. No
vehicle should, in any case, leave the road fixed for
particular route.
Use of flash in the cameras or other photography
equipments should be totally prohibited.
The National Park should be closed totally for
tourists atleast twice a week. The closure days can be
fixed and notified by the Park authorities.
Booking of tickets can be done on-line only upto
60% of the daily tickets to be issued for the tourists.
Rest 40% be sold at the Booking Office at the main Parking
There should be no interference of the Tourism
Department in regard to issuing entry tickets or otherwise
so far as National Park area is concerned. The Tourism
Department can only assist the Park authorities upto the
Parking Complex.
– Safari Park – As has been informed that proposal for
developing a Tiger Safari park at Sawai Madhopur is
already under consideration of the Government. The
proposal be expedited and implemented as early as
possible to ease out pressure of tourists on the National
No industry or commercial activity be allowed or
permitted around National Park affecting over all ecology
and environment of the area.
Above directions are only broad guidelines which
should be implemented immediately by the concerned
authorities. Rest of the work is to be done by the Forest
authorities established under the amending Act of 2006.
Above directions, by and large, may also be applied to
other National Parks with certain modifications as per
conditions of the particular area.
Due appreciation is recorded for Mr Kamlakar
Sharma, Mr Bharat Vyas, Ms Anjana Gosin, Mr Raj Panjwani,
Dr MS Kachhwaha, Mr Harshwardhan and all counsel for their
assistance in the present matter.
With the above directions, all the writ petitions
are disposed of accordingly.
(Ashok Parihar) J.