The Supreme Court of India on Monday issued notice on a Special Leave Petition filed by the Goa government against the High Court judgement which ordered the State government to notify a tiger reserve within a period of three months.
Crucially, however, the Supreme Court has not issued any stay on the operation of the High Court order.
The Supreme Court has directed notices be issued to the Union government and the Goa Foundation who are the original petitioners in the case before the High Court.
In its ruling delivered on July 24, this year, the High Court bench of Justices M S Sonak and M S Jawalkar ruled that the repeated recommendations by National Tiger Conservation Authority under Section 38-V (1) of WLPA (Wildlife Protection Act) are mandatory.
“The State Government was bound to notify Mhadei WLS and other areas as a tiger reserve, given the recommendations of the NTCA on this issue,” the High Court had said.
The judges had also said, “This court cannot blink at the reality that often at the state level, regional, parochial, anthropomorphic, and at times, even narrow political considerations, would prevail over the more significant national interests involved in conserving and protecting the tiger and the tiger habitat”.
Forest Minister and Valpoi MLA Vishwajit Rane had staunchly opposed the setting up of a tiger reserve in the State and had earlier stated that the State government would be challenging the order of the High Court in the Supreme Court.
In 2020, a tigress and three young tigers were found dead in the Mhadei Wildlife Sanctuary prompting an emergency joint meeting of Goa and it’s counterparts. A subsequent investigation by wildlife and forest officials from Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Goa revealed that the deaths were due to poisoning.
After this shocking incident, environmentalists renewed their long-standing demand for a tiger reserve. Various representations were made to the government.
Mukul Rohatgi appeared for the Goa government while Ms Indira Jaising appeared for the Goa Foundation.