Madras HC constitutes SIT to probe 19 elephant deaths

CBI, State police and Forest Department officials inducted into the team

April 27, 2022 09:13 pm | Updated 09:21 pm IST - CHENNAI

The Madras High Court on Wednesday constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT), comprising Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials, State police officers and Forest Department officials, to probe 19 elephant death cases reported in the Megamalai Wildlife Sanctuary, the Sathyamangalam forest division, the Erode division and the Hasanur division between 2014 and 2018.

Justices V. Bharathidasan and N. Sathish Kumar ordered that the SIT comprise CBI Superintendent of Police (SP) Nirmala Devi, former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Shekhar Kumar Niraj, Tamil Nadu Forest Training College principal R. Rajmohan, Deputy Superintendent of Police Santhosh Kumar of the State Police Department and Additional Superintendent of Police Mohan Nawas serving in the Naxalite Special Division in the Nilgiris.

The SIT was constituted since there was a delay in the CBI investigation into the cases. The judges made it clear that the SIT would be at liberty to engage police and forest officers, after obtaining permission from these departments, for an extensive investigation. The team was also given the powers to conduct the investigation under the Code of Criminal Procedure as well as the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972.

After making it clear that all government departments concerned must extend support to the SIT in carrying out its objectives, the Division Bench said the team could complete the investigation and file complaints against the accused concerned before the jurisdictional judicial magistrates. The Bench directed the SIT to commence its probe from May 15 and file a status report before the High Court on June 10.

Since the Government of Kerala had sought time to take a call on nominating its members to the SIT and expressed reservations because of the withdrawal of general consent granted to the CBI to investigate cases within that State, the judges said the court would take a decision on addition or deletion of members of the SIT in the future after taking note of the developments.

Of the 19 cases, only five had been reported as poaching cases. A majority of 10 cases had been reported as elephant deaths due to electrocution and the rest had been reported as deaths due to other reasons. The judges wanted the SIT to not only arrest the accused but also recover the ivory from the smugglers so that it served as a deterrent to wildlife offenders.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.