Decided on March 14,2007

UNION OF INDIA Respondents


SWATANTER KUMAR, J. - (1.) This writ petition was filed in the year 2000 wherein the New Friends Colony Residents Welfare Association had approached this court under Article 226-227 of the Constitution of India praying for issuance of a direction to the concerned authorities and the Government of Delhi to take effective and appropriate steps to deal with the continuing menace of monkeys, stray cattles and dogs and provide them shelter and the road and residential areas of Delhi be kept free from monkeys and other animals. Certain injunctive orders were also prayed. After issuance of notice and hearing the learned counsel appearing for the respondents, this writ petition was disposed of by a Division Bench of this Court vide its order dated 27.9.2002. After noticing the stand of the public authorities, directions which were very limited in their nature and scope were issued and the Court directed that the concerned Officers shall hold a meeting and devise proper scheme and even take lead from the scheme formulated to tackle the problem of stray dogs. It was primarily for the reasons that the Bench had also noticed that the problem of monkeys were receiving attention of the Apex Court in a Public Interest Litigation and even the limited directions contained in the order were made subject to the directions of the Supreme Court. The Chief Wildlife Warden was directed to initiate proper steps and earmark suitable areas for the translocation of such monkeys and permission for capturing them and transporting them to such areas. Though the Government had held meetings three years' prior to passing of that order, but no steps had been taken. Thereafter, the writ petition was revived when various applications were filed by the petitioner and/or other interested person alleging that no steps were being taken particularly in relation to monkey menace in Delhi. Even an application under Order 1 Rule 10 of the Code of Civil Procedure was filed by the citizens for the welfare and protection of animals and the Court had directed all the persons to bring on record as to what effective measures should be taken to tackle the monkey menace vide its order dated 6.9.2006. Since then various orders were passed by the Court. The Supreme Court vide order dated 10.10.2006 had passed certain directions directing the counsel appearing before the Court to discuss the matter and prepare their suggestions. In that very order, the Apex Court had also directed that nearly 300 monkeys which were in the custody of Govt. of NCT of Delhi be handed over to the Chief Wildlife Warden, Madhya Pradesh. The direction was issued to resolve this problem but the order could not be implemented because of some difficulties and disputes that arose between the Chief Wildlife Warden, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. It is even evident from the order of the Supreme Court that the issue could not be resolved. The fact of the matter is that the issue could not be resolved, as is also evident from the order of the Supreme Court. The learned counsel appearing in the present case had informed us that the Supreme Court vide its order in W.P.(C) NO. 440/2000 dated 14.2.2007 had further passed a direction which reads as under:- "Heard the counsel for the parties. Pursuant to the order passed by this Court on 30th April, 2004, 250 monkeys caught by the civil agencies in Delhi, kept in captivity in shelters were ordered to be handed over to the Madhya Pradesh Administration for releasing them in the forest area of the State. As an interim measure, a sum of Rs. 25 lakhs was also ordered to be paid by the Government of India to the State of Madhya Pradesh for meeting the expenses for creating natural habitation for those monkeys. Thereafter, on an application seeking release of 243 monkeys (the number of which had increased to 300) under the custody of NCT of Delhi, this Court passed an order on 10th October 2006 directing that those monkeys be handed over to the Chief Wildlife Warden, Madhya Pradesh. The State of Madhya Pradesh has now filed an I.A. being I.A. No.9 of W.P.(C) No. 440 of 2000 stating that the aforementioned monkeys are creating problem and the administration is not in a position to create a better shelter for these monkeys. It is also alleged that these monkeys have trespassed into for the local people and, therefore, the Chief Wildlife Warden, Madhya Pradesh is not in a position to provide shelter to any number of monkeys. Counsel for the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) submitted that these 300 monkeys which are now in the captivity of NCT of Delhi may be released in Bhati Mines area of Delhi where there is forest growth and these monkeys would find better shelter and natural food. Counsel for the NCT of Delhi submitted that such possibilities have not so far been explored by the administration. We are told that on similar issue the High Court of Delhi has already entertained a public interest litigation being Writ Petition No. 2600 of 2001 and the NCT of Delhi is also a party thereto. NCT of Delhi is hereby directed to seek appropriate directions from the High Court of Delhi in this regard and take a final decision as regards these 300 monkeys are concerned. So far as the monkey menace in Delhi is concerned, except the above directions, no further order is necessary in this case."
(2.) Keeping the above facts in mind and dictum of the Supreme Court as contained in the above order, the Court on 10.1.2007 had constituted a special committee consisting of Ms. Sindhushree Khullar, Chairperson, NDMC; Mr. Dinesh Rai, Vice Chairman, DDA; Mr. J.K. Dadoo, Secy., Ministry of Forests, Delhi; Mr. S.K. Aggarwal, CWLW, Delhi and DIG (Wildlife), Ministry of Forests and Environment. The Committee was requested to tackle and suggest steps which could be taken for solving the problem of monkey menace on the roads and colonies of Delhi. They were also asked to inform the Court on the next date as to what steps have been taken by the authorities to comply with the directions issued by the Supreme Court or the High Court during this long period. The Committee was also to consider suggestions or objections if any filed by any person. It took some time when the Court vide its order dated 13.2.2007 realised that certain definite measures ought to be taken by the concerned authorities, failing which the implementation of the directions of the Court, directly relatable to the legal and public obligations of the authorities would not be complied with.
(3.) It was commonly argued before us and conceded by the authorities that the area at Bhati Mines was more than 100 acres and was adjacent on one side to the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary. This place was found to be most suitable for transportation of monkeys which were caught by the authorities in the city as well as from Rajokri. They would be nearer to the natural environment and have sufficient place. The order dated 13.2.2007 reads as under:- "Present: Ms. Meera Bhatia for petitioner. Mr. J.R. Midha for Govt. of NCT of Delhi. Ms. Zubeda Begum for Forest Department. Ms. Madhu Tewatia for MCD. Ms. Sakie for intervener with Ms. Soniya Ghosh in person. Mr. H.K. Monga for residents of Village Bhati Mines, Fatehpur Beri. Mr. Pramod Ahuja for Intervener/Bhawan Sawan Public School. WP (C) No. 2600/2001 The report of the Committee in furtherance to the order of the Court dated 10th January, 2007 has been filed. This report contains short term and long term measures, which requires to be taken for shifting of monkeys from different parts of Delhi to Bhatti Mines where the Govt. has 100 acres of land and a wild life century. It is proposed that monkeys would be shifted to that place and would be fed to the best of the ability and financial limitation of the State. In order to enforce the recommendations of the Committee and to ensure that this public interest litigation, which is pending for the last nearly 6 years is brought to an end, we issue the following directions with the consent of learned counsel appearing for various parties and authorities in the Government :- (i) A Sub-Committee under the supervision of the Special Committee constituted by the Court is hereby directed to be constituted. It would have Chief Wild Life Warden, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, an officer of the rank of Director (Enforcement) from MCD and NDMC each, an officer of the Joint Director from DDA and Ms. Soniya Ghosh, a member of NGO. This Committee shall inspect Bhatti Mines before the next date of hearing and earmark the centre of the forest area where the monkeys, which are deported from the city of Delhi to Bhatti Mines, are to be left. (ii) The Committee should ensure that a clear passage to that central area is made from the main road. (iii) The outer area of the said forest entry shall either be blocked by a canal or a wall, which the monkeys cannot jump and come back to the colonies situated in various parts of Delhi. (iv) It has been agreed before us that Govt. of NCT of Delhi has provided a budgetary sanction for completion of the project as spelled out by the Special Committee, particularly in relation to short term recommendations. The Govt. of NCT of Delhi has agreed to initially provide four cages, which will be gradually increased later on. The cages will be placed at all main points at Delhi where the monkeys are found in larger number. The cages shall be carried in the trucks, which are to be provided by NDMC and MCD. We further direct that this enforcement committee shall ensure compliance of all the directions, which are stated in our order dated 10th January, 2007. (v) The monkeys, which are to be shifted to Bhatti Mines, shall be subjected to medical examination as far as possible so that they do not suffer from any communicable disease, which will prove injurious to the healthy monkeys. (vi) The Committee shall examine and preferably avoid sterilization of monkeys unless and until it is considered to be essential in some percentage of the monkeys and if it is done, it shall be done with due medical equipments. The Committee shall ensure that animal does not suffer from any disease resulting from performance of such surgery. (vii) The monkeys, which are kept in temporary capacity at Rajokari are stated to be suffering from multiple diseases. Some photographs have been filed by the NGO on record. We are also informed that there is an order of the High Court directing to provide medical aid to the monkeys and to ensure that they are shifted only when they are medically better and in a position to be shifted in a forest. (viii) Capturing and shifting process of the monkeys shall be done in a most humane manner and it will be ensured that no unnecessary injuries would be caused to them in the process of shifting. Let these directions be complied with forthwith and the enforcement committee shall file its report before the next date. All departments of the Government are directed to fully cooperate with each other in order to ensure full compliance of above directions. List on 20th February, 2007. A copy of the order be given dasti to counsel appearing for Govt. of NCT of Delhi under signatures of Court Master.";

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