Man booked under Wildlife Act acquitted after 15 years

Man booked under Wildlife Act acquitted after 15 years

Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Ajay Gupta acquitted Shakurpur resident Prem Kumar alias Pachiappa, who was booked under the Wildlife Protection Act, saying, "It is clear that the alleged snake skins were neither recovered from the possession of the accused nor at his instance."

"Only bearing the address of the accused on the parcel is not sufficient to say that alleged recovery was effected from the accused," the court said.

"Keeping in view the totality of the facts and circumstances, it is held that the prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt against the accused," the court said.

Kumar was arrested after a parcel containing 1428 cobra skins addressed to him was seized in June 1996 during a raid by Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) sleuths at a courier company in Old Delhi following a tip-off on smuggling of snake skins from Chennai to Delhi.

The parcel was sent by Banagalore-based M/s Asia Tanning to Prem Kumar who was apprehended and charge sheeted for violation of the provisions the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

The ACMM noted that during the raid, DRI Intelligence Officer Sanchit Lal was accompanied by some police officials, who were not even examined by the prosecution.
Additionally, even all the formal witnesses, wildlife inspectors, were not present at the crucial time of recovery of the snake skins and deposed more or less on basis of hearsay and what Lal had told them.

The probe did not even sought to trace the source of the skins, or their trader or sender, said the court, adding it did not even sought to ascertain if Kumar was actually engaged in smuggling the contraband.

The courier receipt bearing Kumar's name and address, which formed a vital piece of evidence, was also not proved on record, the court pointed out.

The court held that "the accused was charge sheeted in this case only on the basis of the alleged parcel containing his name and address."

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