Nearly 14 years after an elephant died from electrocution, the Karnataka High Court has upheld the conviction of two people who erected electric fences around their farmland, which resulted in the death of the elephant.
A single bench of judges of Judge Mohammad Nawaz upheld the conviction entered against the accused Srinivasa and Basavaraju under sections 138(1)(a) of the Electricity Act 2003 and section 429 of the ICC. However, the Court quashed the conviction and sentence under Section 9 r/w Section 51 of the Wildlife Protection Act.
The convicts had appealed to the Court challenging an order dated June 22, 2011 from the District Judge and Supplementary Sessions, in which they were found guilty and sentenced for the above offences.
According to the prosecution, the forest department observer found a dead elephant on the land of a certain Sundar Das and noticed that there was a solar fence erected around the land and that there was a monitoring station. pumping and from said pumping station electricity connection had been taken without permission to the solar fence.
He transmitted the information to the Range Forest Officer of Antharasanthe WildLife Range, who after confirming that the elephant had died when coming into contact with the electric fence installed around the land, filed a complaint.
The investigator filed an indictment against the defendants/appellants and after questioning the witnesses and recording the evidence, the trial court found the defendants guilty and sentenced them.
Counsel for the accused argued that the accused did not own the land in question and that there was no evidence to show that they cultivated the land or erected electric fences on the land. ground in question, nothing of value is obtained from the witnesses prosecuted for disbelieving their testimony.
However, after reading the depositions of the witnesses, the Court noted that the land in question had been rented by the defendants and that they cultivated the said land. “The material on file also reveals that an electric fence was erected around the land and that the elephant came into contact with said fence and died by electrocution,” he added.
With respect to the argument that the trial court was not entitled to convict the appellant under the provisions of the Wild Life Protection Act, since no complaint was filed by an agent authorized and that, therefore, knowledge of the offense under said Act could not have been taken, says the bench,
“The complaint was filed by PW1 i.e. Range Forest Officer before the police and at the end of the investigation the indictment was filed and on the basis of the act of accusation, the learned magistrate had knowledge and therefore the knowledge was not on a complaint, which is defined in section 2(d) of the Cr.PC.“
As a result, he amended the sentencing order issued by the court of first instance. It also amended the sentence given under Article 429 ICC and ordered the convicts to pay a fine of `10,000 and in default of payment of the fine, shall face rigorous imprisonment for a period of 6 [six] month.
Case Title: SRINIVASA and ANR v. STATE BY BEECHANALLI POLICE STATION.
Case No.: PENAL APPEAL NO. 716 OF 2011
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 188
Order date: MAY 27, 2022
Appearance: Maître YD HARSHA for the appellants; HCGP RD RENUKARADHYA for the respondent.
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