New Delhi: Bishan Singh, arrested in Delhi in March 1997 for illegal trade in desert cat and fishing cat articles, was today sentenced to a year in prison by the Court of the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Dig Vinay Singh. He has also been fined a sum of Rs 10,000.
“Illegal trade in Schedule I species attracts a minimum punishment of three years’ imprisonment, today. However, during the time of the accused’s arrest, it was just one year’s imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5,000. The court’s decision to sentence Singh to just one year in prison is based on the quantity of the articles confiscated from him,” said Saurabh Sharma, Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) lawyer, who assisted the prosecution.
The Delhi Police had recovered two pieces of desert cat skin and a glove made of fishing cat skin from the accused and an accomplice, Mukesh Kumar (who is absconding), from Majnu-ka-Tila, Delhi, on March 3, 1997. Conservationist Vivek Menon, currently the Executive Director of WTI, had been called in as an expert to identify the skins.
“On March 12, this year, when Singh was convicted, the Court observed the defence attorney’s argument that there was no independent witness to the case. However, the Court overruled the argument stating that Vivek Menon was an independent witness,” added Sharma. “Singh can now appeal to a higher court. If he fails to do so within a period of a month, he will be sent to prison.”