Notify new norms on tiger reserves in a week: SC
The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Centre to notify within a week its fresh guidelines on tiger conservation. It indicated that it may modify its July 24 order that stayed all tourism activities in tiger reserves.
A Bench comprising Justices A K Patnaik and Swatanter Kumar said it will not let its directives on tiger conservation remain 'open-ended'. The Bench made it clear that the states, if unhappy with the guidelines, can challenge it before the court.
"We are not going to approve them or declare any of it as ultra vires. You notify the guidelines and let the states challenge them in appropriate proceedings...The tourism was going unregulated earlier since you did not have the guidelines," the Bench told Additional Solicitor General Indira Jai Singh.
Citing the federal structure enshrined in the Constitution, the court said, "We are not sitting in appellate jurisdiction. So we cannot validate these guidelines. Moreover, the Centre's guidelines are meaningless till the states choose to frame their own guidelines on tiger conservation and tourism...We may monitor it or ask for a time-bound programmes for the states... ."
The SC noted that the purpose of its orders were not to stop tourism but regulate it. "We are giving you (Centre) a fair option. We can let you notify your revised guidelines. Then you bring the notification before us and we might modify our interim order of July 24," it said.
In reply, the ASG said the guidelines prepared by the National Tiger Conservation Authority will be notified within a week. The court, on October 16, will hear the parties for vacating its ban order and to pass directions to the states.
Advocate K K Venugopal appeared for Kerala and pleaded the court to delink the state from the present proceedings. Citing a part of the guidelines which relates to Periyar Tiger Reserve and regulation of pilgrimage to Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, which falls in the reserve, he said there was an interim order operating with respect to Periyar by another Bench of the SC. The Bench said they will not disturb the position of parties, existing due to operation of an order by another Bench.
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