New Delhi, Sept 8: A man, convicted of illegally possessing tiger skin in a 17 year-old-case, has been released on probation by a Delhi court which said he should be given an opportunity to reform and rehabilitate himself in the society and become a responsible citizen.
Special CBI Judge V K Khanna partly allowed the appeal of 44-year-old Brijesh Kumar Singh against a magisterial court order that had sentenced him to one year in jail for violating the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

“Having regard to the totality of facts and circumstances, and the fact that the convict has appeared during trial for about 17 years, has already remained in custody for a month- and-a-half, and is not reported to be involved in any other criminal case, he should be given an opportunity to reform and rehabilitate himself in the society and to become responsible citizen of state,” the judge said. (Also Read: National Tiger Conservation Authority sanctions STPF for two tiger reserves in Telangana)

The court also took into consideration his character and the nature offence, saying, “It is deemed expedient in the interest of justice to release the appellant on probation instead of sentencing him.” It released him on probation on furnishing Rs 25,000 and one surety of the like amount for a period of one year.

The court also asked him to pay Rs one lakh compensation with a direction that it shall go to the State to take wildlife protection measures. Upholding his conviction, the judge relied on statements of prosecution witnesses, including the Wildlife Protection Officer, who was the complainant, and other CBI officers.

“Prosecution has sufficiently established the place from where the accused was apprehended and the tiger skin was seized from him,” the judge said. According to prosecution, on November 26, 1997, CBI received information that Singh, a UP native, was indulging in sale of tiger skins and ivory and would come to Nizamuddin area here to deliver them the next day.

A trap was laid by a raiding team of CBI officials and Singh was apprehended in his car with one tiger skin wrapped in a plastic bag for which he did not have a licence. After a 17-year-long trial, he was convicted and jailed in March this year by an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) under section 49 (Purchase of captive animal by a person other than a licensee) and 49-B(1) (Prohibition of dealings in trophies, animal articles, derived from scheduled animals) punishable under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972