By Vijay Pinjarkar
NAGPUR: Describing tiger poaching as one of the most serious offences, a single bench of Justice SB Shukre at the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court on Friday cancelled the bail granted by lower courts to tiger skin carrier Naresh Lala and also the rejected a plea by international tiger skin trader Suraj Pal alias Chacha challenging rejection of his bail by an Amravati court.
After two days of arguments between special counsel for forest department Kartik Shukul and counsels for the accused, Pervez Mirza and Yogesh Satpute, Justice Shukre issued the orders on Friday. While cancelling the bail of Lala, the court directed that he may be arrested in accordance with the law.
Chacha, whose bail application has already been cancelled in the Nagpur offence by the HC on December 12, had appealed against the Amravati District & Additional Sessions Judge VD Shukla's order on July 27, which had rejected Chacha's plea considering his key role in poaching. On Friday, Justice Shukre upheld Amravati court's decision.
Amravati AGP PS Ganorkar hailed the HC decision. "Though Chacha may not have laid traps to kill tigers, he and the poachers sail in the same boat as it was Chacha who financed the trade and sold tiger skins to neighbouring countries," Ganorkar said. When Chacha was arrested in Delhi, a cell phone was seized from him. The call detail records (CDR) revealed calls to Nepal and China.
The HC also cancelled the bail granted to Lala, who had transported a bag containing five tiger skins and body parts from Nagpur in June last. Lala was granted bail by JMFC and then again by additional sessions judge at Nagpur on the ground that he did not inspect the contents of the bag.
Shukul had argued that Lala's aide Sarju Bagdi, who procured the skins by paying Rs 20 lakh received from Chacha as advance to pay poachers, had informed Lala about tiger skins being kept in the bag and thereafter in his car. During a raid in Delhi in September last, Rs 2.75 lakh and tiger bones were seized from Lala and Sarju.
Sources said Lala will now be arrested by the CBI, which has taken over investigations in the poaching case. The CBI officials on Friday took poacher Raslal for spot verification at Amdi Fata, where poachers had set up camp. Raslal has been remanded to custody till December 26.