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SIT to commence probe from May 15 on Elephant deaths in TN 

- April 28, 2022

Chennai, April 28 (BPNS)

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted by the Madras High Court to investigate 19 elephant deaths between 2014 and 2018 in the forest areas of Tamil Nadu will commence the probe from May 15th. The investigation team will have to file a status report before the Madras High Court on June 10th.

The SIT will probe the elephant deaths that were reported from Megamalai Wild Life Sanctuary, the Sathyamangalam Forest division, the Erode division, and the Hasanur division.

A division bench of the Madras High Court comprising of Justices, V. Bharathidasan and N. Sathish Kumar had ordered the constitution of an SIT as the pace of the CBI investigation into the case was slow.

The SIT constituted by the Madras High Court has Nirmala Devi, Superintendent of Police (CBI), former Chief Wild Life Warden of Tamil Nadu, Shekhar Kumar Niraj,  Tamil Nadu forest training College principal, B. Rajmohan, Santhosh Kumar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Tamil Nadu police, Mohan Nawas, Additional Superintendent of Police, Naxalite Special Division, Nilgiris as members.

The Madras High Court also directed the SIT that it can engage the services of officers from the police and forest departments after taking necessary permissions from the departments concerned. The court also gave permission to the SIT to conduct an investigation under the Code of Criminal Procedure as well as the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972.

It is to be noted that of the 19 deaths of elephants in the above-mentioned forest divisions between 2014 and 2018 only 5 were reported due to poaching. The rest were either due to electrocution or other reasons. The Madras High Court directed the SIT to conduct an investigation and arrest the accused in poaching and other elephant deaths and recover the ivory from the smugglers. The court said that this would act as a deterrent to those who commit wildlife crimes like poaching and killing of protected species and other wild animals.

The Madras High Court has also said that the court will decide on whether more members are necessary to be included in the SIT as also whether some of the present members be removed from the team.