By Vijay Pinjarkar
The court of judicial magistrate first class (JMFC) R B Raja on Friday held an in-camera hearing in the tiger poaching case. This may be perhaps the first time that a hearing took place on issues like tiger poaching in such a manner.
In-camera hearing is conducted in private as the courtroom doors are locked, leaving only the judge, the court clerks, concerned parties and lawyers, accused and witnesses in attendance.
On Friday afternoon, the forest department produced the three tiger poaching accused Lupustan alias Nupustan, Surival alias Srival and Nirafal to seek further extension of their five-day forest custody remand (FCR). The court extended the FCR of the accused till September 2.
According to senior officials, earlier in the day, special counsel for the forest department K N Shukul had filed an application before the JMFC to hold an in-camera hearing as the investigating team had got some leads during the FCR of the three accused.
"We do not want to disclose anything now. An open hearing would have led to sharing of certain facts which we feel could have hampered the investigations," they told TOI.
As it was an in-camera hearing, what happened in the court could not be known. But forest department sources said the court expressed unhappiness over the sloppy pace of progress in the investigations.
The court told in clear terms that it was not satisfied with the pace of investigations as even after three months the officials could not arrest tiger skin trader Sarju Bagdi and notorious poacher Ranjit Singh, whose names always figure in the hearings. More....