Supreme Court of India

“The membership of the National Board for Wildlife did not conform to the Wildlife Protection Act”

SanjayUpadhyay_EnvironmentalLawyerTwo days ago, the Supreme Court of India restrained the National Board for Wildlife (“the Board”) from implementing its decisions. The order was particularly significant because the Standing Committee of the Board had very recently cleared more than 140 projects that had been awaiting its approval. The approval of the Board is a requirement under Section 29 of the Act, that has to be fulfilled before any such activity can proceed in national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

The Court had found prima facie that the constitution of the Board violated the provisions of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 (“the Act”). Sanjay Upadhyay, the environmental lawyer who is representing the petitioner in this matter, explained the illegalities highlighted in the petition.

He said that Section 5A of the Act envisages that the Board should have ten independent experts including environmentalists, environmental experts, and ecologists, and five non-governmental organisations. A notification issued on July 22, 2014, however, only talks about two experts – “a retired forester from Gujarat and the other is a retired scientist from the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore”.

“Without going into the merits of who they are, the fact is that there were supposed to be ten of them but there are only two.” Secondly, there is only one NGO, the GEER Foundation from Gujarat, headed by the Chief Minister of Gujarat. “It is fairly well known that it is a government controlled NGO.” Further, ten states had to be appointed but only five were.

The view taken by the petitioners therefore is that the membership of the National Board for Wildlife that has been notified does not conform to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. “Prima facie, the Court has decided that the constitution of the National Board for Wildlife is not in accordance with the Section 5A of the Act. The second part of the order is that the Board may function but they may not give effect to any decision of the Board until the next date of hearing.”



International Tiger Day in the forty-first year of the Wildlife Protection Act

The tiger has lost almost 93% of its original habitat in the last 100 years and the greatest threat to the big cat population has come from human beings. Despite being listed as an endangered species by the IUCN, poaching (illegal hunting) continues to threaten tiger populations everywhere.


In 1972, the Wildlife (Protection) Act outlawed the hunting of animals for sport or shikar, which had become a British pastime in India. Trophies like tiger skin however, remain prized and the demand for various body parts for traditional Chinese medication practices means that the tiger continues to be hunted. Between 1994 and 2003, the Wildlife Protection Society of India recorded 684 cases Environmental-Lawof tiger poaching in India. Today, on the 3rd International Tiger Day, India has already reported 46 tiger deaths this year. That is only 26 fewer than the total number of deaths recorded last year. In the forty-first year of the law, India looks poised to touch a new high in the number of tiger deaths. Where did we go wrong?


(Image above is originally from kohlmann.sascha’s photostream on Flickr here and has been published here under a CC-BY SA 2.0 license.)

(Suhasini Rao-Kashyap is part of the faculty on