An accused from Jammu & Kashmir who was arrested by Delhi Wildlife officials with 11 Shahtoosh shawls in November 2002 was convicted by trial court last week. Court observed that from the bare reading of the provisions of section 57 of Wildlife Protection Act, it is clear that prosecution is to prove that the accused was found in possession/custody or control of any part or derivative of any captive animal and until the contrary is proved, which is to be proved by the accused, custody of such person will be treated to be unlawful custody. If the defence of the accused is taken into consideration, same appears to be afterthought and thus he failed to rebut presumption of unlawful custody of Shahtoosh shawls recovered from his possession.
Court held that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against the accused that he was found in possession of aforesaid wild life articles i.e 11 Shahtoosh Shawls made of/derived from Tibetan Antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii) without any licence or authority. The species of Tibetan Antelope
are specified in Schedule I of the Act and thus accused has contravened the provisions of section 49 of the Act which is punishable u/s 51 of Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. Accordingly, accused is held guilty and is convicted for the offence u/s 49 of Wild Life (Protection) Act.
Last week a trial court in Delhi had convicted a person who was caught with 9 shahtoosh shawls (made from under fleece of Tibetan antelope) in Delhi on March 2002. The case was registered by Wildlife Department of Delhi government, court held that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against the accused and he has contravened the provisions of section 49 of the Act which is punishable u/s 51 of Wildlife Protection Act 1972.