Supreme Court upheld an Allahabad High Court order granting immunity from investigation and prosecution if one declared illegal acquisition or possession of exotic wildlife species between June and December.
What was the High Court decision?
Under the new scheme of centre, the High Court had said that whoever declares the stock of exotic species and submits to registration under the scheme shall have immunity from any inquiry into the source of licit acquisition or possession of the voluntarily declared stock of exotic species.
What is the government’s One-time voluntary disclosure scheme?
The one-time voluntary disclosure scheme allows owners of exotic live species that have been acquired illegally, or without documents, to declare their stock to the government between June and December 2020.
Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) of the concerned state or Union Territory will have to issue an online certificate of possession of exotic live species within six months of the date of the voluntary disclosure.
After the registration, it is mandatory for the owner to allow the CWLW with free access to the exotic species declared on any day for verification.
Apart from this, the CWLW has to be informed about any new acquisition, death or change in possession of the animals within 30 days.
The scheme has also specified guidelines for surrender of such animals to a recognised zoo.
What is the objective of the scheme?
The government aims to address the challenge of zoonotic diseases.
To develop an inventory of exotic live species for better compliance under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
To regulate their illegal import.
What kind of exotic wildlife is covered?
The advisory has defined exotic live species as animals named under the Appendices I, II and III of the CITES.
It does not include species from the Schedules of the Wild Life (Protection) Act 1972.
CITES is an international agreement between governments to ensure that international trade in wild animals, birds and plants does not endanger them.
India is a member.
Appendices I, II and III of CITES list 5,950 species as protected against over-exploitation through international trade.
Many of these animals, such as iguanas, lemurs, civets, albino monkeys, coral snakes, tortoises, are popular as exotic pets in India.