The Hon’ble SC on 18th March 2021 granted time to the centre to respond to the PIL led regarding non-functioning of National Board for Wildlife constituted under Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 on the lookout for directions to organize the first meeting of the Board after its re-formation in 2014.
The Court Hon’ble Apex Court has decided to hear the matter to deliberate further on the matter on 24th March 2021, Wednesday.
Needful to mention that during the hearing, counsel appearing for the Centre mentioned and presented before the Hon’ble Court that he (the petitioner) has been receiving instructions and guidelines and he is working on the same and the counsel also mentioned to the Hon’ble SC that he will respond to the same by Monday or Tuesday.
The Hon’ble three-Judge Bench had earlier issued notice to the Centre, in the petition challenging that by not convening a single meeting, the National Board for Wildlife has failed in following mandate of Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and in upholding Directive Principles Of State Policies (hereinafter referred to as “DPSP”) under Article 48A of the Indian Constitution.
To which the petitioner has submitted that the re-formation of the Board was done soon after guidelines were issued by the Hon’ble Apex Court through its order dated 25th August 2014 in the case of Chandrabhal Singh vs Union of India.
Subsequently, the petitioner also stated that the National Board for Wildlife has not even met once while the parent legislation Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 provides for a statutory period of one year for the meeting to be conducted to guide the laws and policies relating to wildlife conservation including prevention of illegal trade. In the absence of such a meeting of the Board, the policymaking has been taken over illegally by the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife without any delegation as per Section 5B(1) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 and without any justification in law. Due to such ad-hoc and arbitrary processes being carried out the highest statutory body in the country for wildlife conservation has been reduced to a clearance granting body and the entire National Board for Wildlife has been diluted and subverted.
Therefore there is a gaping lacuna in conservation and preservation of wildlife and combating illegal trade of wildlife and poaching among other concerns such as monitoring of the Protected Area Network, etc in the interest of the environment and wildlife.
The petitioner also contended that by not organizing even a single meeting the National Board for Wildlife has not only failed in following the Act’s mandate but also miserably failed in upholding the DPSP under Article 48A of the Indian Constitution.
The petitioner additionally also mentioned to the Hon’ble Court that, the Board has also grossly violated the fundamental rights enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution because the Hon’ble SC has time and again held that two said articles have to be kept in mind in understanding the scope and purport of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.