A contempt petition against Maharashtra forest officials for killing a tigress in 2018 will be heard in the Supreme Court today.
The petitioner, Sangeeta Dogra, an animal rights activist, had approached the Supreme Court seeking contempt action against those linked to the killing of the tigress, also known then as Avni or T1.
Ms Dogra says Avni was not a man-eater.
The Supreme Court had already issued notices to nine officials and sought evidence to confirm whether the big cat was a man-eater.
The court had demanded answers on the reward given out for killing the tigress in violation of a judicial order.
“They flouted orders that they shall not reward anyone who kills (the tigress),” Chief Justice SA Bobde said on February 10 while hearing a petition on the incident. Those who have been issued the contempt notice include Maharashtra Principal Secretary for Forests Vikas Kharge and state Chief Wildlife Warden AK Mishra.
Believed to have killed 13-15 persons in the region till then, Avni was shot dead on November 2, 2018, following a massive hunt involving 200 paragliders, infrared cameras, and Calvin Klein fragrances. This was three months after the Supreme Court gave authorities the permission to shoot it “at sight” if tranquilisers didn’t work.
Citing post mortem and DNA reports, the petitioner had argued that T1 was not a man-eater, after which the court agreed to examine this matter.
“How does a post mortem show if an animal is a man-eater or not?” Chief Justice Bobde asked in the last hearing. Ms Dogra replied that a man-eater would have nails and hair in the intestine for six months but this tigress’s stomach was empty.
The killing was carried out in Maharashtra’s Yavatmal district by a team of forest officials and a civilian hunter named Asgar Ali. Ms Dogra alleged that state authorities had arranged a function following the hunt, during which a silver idol of a tigress was handed to Mr Ali. “This certainly is an act of trophy hunting which was gifted through the hands of villagers…” the petition alleged.