WILD ANIMALS GOVT. PROPERTY: HIGH COURT - 13th April 2012

Vaibhav Ganjapure, TNN
NAGPUR: The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High court has ruled that wild animals, including tiger, were government property for all purposes and any damage cause by them should be compensated by the government. "If a wild animal causes loss to an agriculturist or a citizen, it would be the responsibility of the appropriate government to make good the loss," a division bench of justices Sharad Bobde and Prasanna Varale ruled before directing the government to pay damages of Rs 3.84 lakh to a Wardha farmerwhose crops were damaged by tigers in the area.

According to Baburao Aglawe (65), a resident of Kinhala village of Seloo in Wardha district, four tigers had caused damaged to banana crop standing on five acres in April and May, 2010. He applied for compensation of Rs 3.84 lakh along with 18% interest. However, finance departmentrejected it stating government had no such policy. Aglawe asked when he could get compensation if a tiger killed his cow, why not if it destroyed his crop.

"Though, the provision declares that wild animals are government property in the context of their protection from being hunted, we are of the view that wild animals should be treated as government property for all purposes," the bench observed adding that it would be open to a citizen to claim compensation for the loss caused by any wild animal, whether specifically referred to in any provision, government resolution (GR) or not.

The judges noted that the compensation policy framed by the government enjoined farmers to protect nests of vultures and claim compensation for any loss suffered by them on account of having so protected the nests. "There is no reason why the same principle should not be applied to the case of the petitioner, who protected the tigress who nurtured her cubs in an agricultural land of the petitioner," they observed.

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