Gujarat High Court Orders Inquiry into Lion Deaths on Railway Tracks

The Gujarat High Court orders a high-level inquiry into the deaths of 3 Asiatic lions on railway tracks, criticizing the authorities' inadequate investigation and lack of preventive measures.

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Gujarat High Court Orders Inquiry into Lion Deaths on Railway Tracks

Gujarat High Court Orders Inquiry into Lion Deaths on Railway Tracks

The Gujarat High Court has ordered a high-level inquiry into the Indian Railways and the state forest department over the deaths of three Asiatic lions on railway tracks in Ahmedabad in January 2024. The court expressed strong displeasure at the 'face saving' inquiry conducted by the authorities, stating that they failed to take preventive measures after the first mishap and that the inquiry into the cause of the incidents was not properly conducted.

The division bench of the court, comprising Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha Mayee, was hearing a suo motu PIL over the death of Asiatic lions due to unnatural causes, including the recent train-related deaths. The court has directed the secretaries of both the ministries to constitute a high-level committee to investigate the cause of the three accidents that occurred between January 9-21, 2024, and fix responsibility on the officials.

The court noted that it was its anxiety and frustration that three lion deaths had occurred, but nobody was alerted. "The court has expressed dissatisfaction with the government's response, stating that the authorities have not taken any effective measures to prevent such incidents despite being aware of the problem," the bench observed.

Why this matters: Gujarat is the only abode for the Asiatic lions, and their conservation is of utmost importance. The deaths of three lions on railway tracks within a short span of time raise serious concerns about the measures taken by the authorities to protect the endangered species.

The Gujarat High Court has directed a comprehensive investigation to be conducted and has scheduled the next hearing on April 26th. The court has also questioned the government's handling of the matter and has asked for a detailed report on the steps taken to prevent such incidents in the future. This development comes in a PIL filed in 2016 by an animal rights activist, demanding a CID probe into the electrocution-death of a pregnant lioness in 2016.

Key Takeaways

  • Gujarat HC orders high-level inquiry into deaths of 3 Asiatic lions on railway tracks.
  • Court criticizes 'face saving' inquiry by authorities, lack of preventive measures.
  • Secretaries of ministries directed to constitute committee to investigate accidents.
  • Gujarat is the only abode of Asiatic lions, their conservation is of utmost importance.
  • Court questions government's handling, demands report on steps to prevent such incidents.