Rashid Paul

HC dismisses fur traders’ petition for their rehabilitation

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Says trade in wild animals and their derivatives like fur is dangerous

Srinagar: Dismissing petitions by fur traders of Kashmir seeking rehabilitation under a 1998 government order, the J&K High Court today said the state was justified in negating their rehabilitation and restricting it to the fur artisans.

The petitioner traders sought rehabilitation in the wake of complete ban on fur trade in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state due to enactment of J&K Wild Life Protection Act of 1978.

Their claim for rehabilitation was based on the recommendations of a committee constituted in 1998 by the state authorities. Rs 12 crore (approximately) had been sanctioned by the government for the purpose.

The rehabilitation package was later extended only to the fur artisans.  The action was in line with recommendations of another committee constituted later on by the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir.

The second committee after survey came to the conclusion that only fur artisans were the people deprived of their means of livelihood due to ban on fur.

It also noted that fur traders already had alternative avocations and businesses and were well-established.

The artisans engaged in preparing or selling the fur-made items were dependent for their livelihood exclusively on the fur. Due to the ban they were left with nothing to do, the committee had said.

Justice Sanjeev Kumar who heard the traders’ petitions observed “there is intelligible differentia for classification which has a definite nexus with the object sought to be achieved by rehabilitation”.

He said that like the trade in intoxicating drugs and liquor, the trade in wild animals and their derivatives like fur is dangerous, subversive and pernicious.

It has the potential to deplete the species of wild animals and ultimately extinguish them.

The judge said other trades like gambling, prostitution and dealing in counterfeit currency notes are equally pernicious. “No citizen can claim fundamental right in such trades by invoking certain Articles of the Constitution of India,” he said.

“No right inhers in the fur traders to claim rehabilitation as a matter of right. There is no question of theirs been deprived of means of livelihood. Earning of livelihood by indulging in a dangerous and pernicious trade is not countenanced by any civil society anywhere in the world,” Justice Kumar said.

The reasons given by the (second) committee to provide rehabilitation only to the artisans and not to the fur traders are fair, just and proper, he said adding the reasons by the (second) committee do not fall foul with Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

The article calls for equality before the law and equal protection by the law.

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