By Vijay Pinjarkar
NAGPUR: In a surprise move, the two sensitive tiger poaching cases being heard by judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) DS Parwani were on Thursday shifted to the court of chief judicial magistrate (CJM).
Though immediate reason to shift the cases to a higher court was not known, legal experts say the JMFC has power to sentence poachers for three years but the CJM can sentence them to seven years if found guilty under the Wildlife Protection Act. According to sources, Parwani himself on September 4, through a letter requested principal district and sessions judge KK Sonawane to shift the cases.
Accordingly, the two tiger poaching cases in which at least 30 organized poachers and their harbourers were arrested, have been now shifted to the court of AC Raut, chief judicial magistrate (CJM). The CJM will hear the matter on September 17.
The cases were shifted on Thursday, when an order on the serious matter of two main poachers Mamru and Chika, whether they were juvenile or not, was to be passed. During cross examination by special counsel for the forest department Kartik Shukul, the subregistrar of Biruhali near Katni in MP had confessed that the birth certificates issued by him were invalid.
The Biruhali subregistrar also admitted that he had no authority to issue the said certificates. Counsel for the accused, PS Sontakke, argued that the said certificates were proof of age and the accused should be declared as juveniles. Interestingly, even the ossification report submitted is not in the required format and is therefore invalid in the eyes of law.
This is perhaps the first time that poachers are claiming juvenile status to escape punishment and hence the matter assumes significance. On Thursday, the bail application of tiger skin and body parts trader Surajbhan alias Sarju Bagdi was also to be heard.