Himachal HC notice to Centre, state on monkey menace

Shimla, April 19 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday issued notice to the central and state governments on the issue of declaring monkeys as vermin within the Shimla Municipal Corporation’s jurisdiction.

A division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan directed the environment, forests and climate change ministry’s secretary, the state chief secretary and the national board of wildlife’s member-secretary to file their replies within six weeks.

The court listed the matter for further hearing on May 3.

The court was hearing animal rights activist Rajeshwar Singh Negi’s plea, challenging a central government notification to declare monkeys in Shimla town as vermin for six months as they posed a threat to people and damage crops

Negi said that the notification disregards a constitutional mandate about securing wildlife and the environment, adding that the right to life ensured by Article 21 of the constitution extended to animals as well.

The petitioner pleaded that killing monkeys for violent behaviour was not a solution to the problem. Instead, a substantial scientific method could be used to deal with them, he said.

He said that anyone could kill monkeys anywhere in the state capital without official permission after this notification and it would lead to drastic decline in the simian population.

He sought the repeal of the notification on the ground that it was violative of the relevant law.

An animal rights group expressed happiness over the development.

“The notification to declare the monkeys vermin is arbitrary. We hope a humane solution can be found to tackle their population,” US-based Humane Society International campaign manager N.G. Jayasimha told IANS.

In January 2011, the high court put on hold the permission granted to farmers to shoot monkeys. The stay is still in force.

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