Katni, Madhya Pradesh: Shri A.A. Ansari, the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Katni, today sentenced two poachers, Ittu Baiga, Bahilal Baiga to rigorous imprisonment of six years and a fine of Rs. 10,000 each under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. The third accused Iqbal (alias Atiq Ahmed), is still absconding and his trial is still pending.
On 25 June, 2009, the three poachers had poisoned a water-hole in the Dhimarkheda range of Katni division with an organo-phosphate pesticide (phosphamidan) which led to the death of nine wild animals including three leopards, two civet cats, one spotted deer and one langur monkey. One of the poachers, Iqbal, is still absconding.
Poisoning of water-holes is a terrible method of poaching which results in indiscriminate killing of animals, irrespective of which species the poacher is after. The case was initially tried a Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Katni, Shri U.S. Agrawal, who convicted the accused and observed that the gravity of the offence deserved more than three years punishment, which is the maximum that he could award as per Section 29(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. Accordingly, on July 31, 2010, he commuted the case to the Chief Judicial Magistrate to award the sentence.
The leopard is listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, and the civet cat is listed in Part II of Schedule II of the Act. The penalty for a first time offence involving these species is between three to seven years of imprisonment and a fine not less than ten thousand rupees.
The prosecution of the case was handled by advocate Ms. Manjula Shrivastava, who is also a lawyer for the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI) at Katni.