The Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice S.A. Bobde, Justices A.S. Bopanna and V. Ramasubramanian on Monday asked the petitioner to approach the High Court on his plea seeking urgent steps to protect forests, wildlife and birds from wildfires in Uttarakhand. Advocate Rituparn Uniyal had filed the plea saying forest blazes have increased over the years and cause a huge loss to the environment.

On the previous occasion, the Court had allowed the petitioner to file a copy of the directions of the Uttarakhand High Court on the issue of forest fire. The petitioner mentioned the judgment passed by the High Court in the previous hearing before the court but the CJI said the judgment is not mentioned in the plea. To which, the petitioner said he recently came across the judgment of the Uttarakhand HC.

The petition has sought directions to the Centre, the Uttarakhand government and the principal chief conservator of forests in the state to make pre-fire arrangements and frame a policy to prevent forest fires.

The petitioner also sought an investigation into the matter by an independent agency and directions to declare the animal kingdom as legal entities having a distinct persona with corresponding rights, duties and liabilities of a living person.

The petitioner submitted, “Forest fires in Uttarakhand have been a regular and historic feature. Every year, forest fires in Uttarakhand cause great loss to the forest ecosystem, diversity of flora and fauna and economic wealth. Forest fire is one of the major disasters in the forests of Uttarakhand. Despite a consistent history of forest fires, the ignorance, inactiveness, negligence and unreadiness of the respondents (Centre, state government and chief conservator of forests) have rendered a great loss to forests, wildlife and birds in Uttarakhand and thus, caused ecological imbalance.”

The CJI said the matter will be heard next week.

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