Give bulletproof jackets to forest officials: SC

The bench noted the submission that the pending review petition was yet to come up before the high court and granted liberty to petitioners to mention the matter thereafter. [File]

Expressing serious concern over brutal attack by poachers on unarmed forest officials, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the state governments to follow the Assam model and provide firearms and bulletproof jackets to forest guards.

The bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde and also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said that it was “extremely distressing” to see forest officials wearing slippers and armed with sticks put on duty to protect large tracts of forest land and flora and fauna.

The Chief Justice also observed that the unarmed officials stood little chance against heavily armed poachers. “A forest ranger is in a situation where he cannot call for help unlike a policeman in a city. No one to help him in a forest,” he remarked.

The bench pointed out that the situation was “serious and difficult to comprehend” as to how these guards have to protect vast tracts of inhabited land, which the poachers take undue advantage of to carry out their nefarious activities. IANS

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta agreed with the court’s suggestion and submitted that the central government would explore such possibility.