Making a strong case for Conservation and Rights
A Wildlife Protection Moot Court
As an organization with a bunch of legal minds in its midst, the Initiative for Climate Action co-organised the second National Wildlife Protection Moot Court Competition in collaboration with the Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Government Law College, Mumbai from 27th to 29th November, 2020. Here, we speak about the three day-long event with the people leading the charge on behalf of the ICA, Anagha Sasidharan and Shivangi Adani.
Can you tell us about your aims and objectives as you designed this programme?
AS: We wanted to create greater awareness of the challenges faced in wildlife conservation from a legal perspective. Thus, we chose to engage with judges and other prominent researchers and activists from our network to lead this programme. Our objective was to create a platform for young legal talent to interact with such stalwarts of wildlife conservation in India, and make it appealing for these young minds to pursue a career practicing wildlife law.
SA: Not to forget, as a definitive outcome of the programme, we published a resource Handbook on the topic. The Handbook promises to be a critical resource for anyone wanting to know more about the legal aspects of wildlife protection and forest rights in India. Several ICA members contributed individual pieces to the Handbook!
What were the different activities which took place as part of the programme?
AS: We organized a panel discussion on wildlife conservation and the role and rights of communities living on the fringes of protected areas in India. We invited a diverse set of people to help us understand the opportunities and challenges that exist in such landscapes for people as well as wildlife. The panel included Mr. MS Reddy, Field Director, Melghat Tiger Reserve, Mr. Praveen Bhargav, Co-founder, Wildlife First, Ms. Rita Banerjee, Founder-Director, Green Hub Project and Dr. Manju Menon, Senior Fellow, Centre For Policy Research.
SA: Following the expert-led discussion, we provided a platform for students to discuss this issue in a Moot Court competition. Based on the theme ‘People (traditional dwellers) v/s Forests,’ sixteen teams from law colleges across the country presented and argued their case before some stellar benches, which consisted of senior lawyers, law firm partners and judges from the Bombay High Court. At the end of an enthralling final, National Law Institute University, Bhopal was adjudged the winners, closely beating Symbiosis Law School, Noida.
This sounds very exciting! Who were the other organizations you teamed up with?
AS: Our partners for the programme were the Wildlife Conservation Trust (WCT) and Government Law College. The WCT is a not-for-profit organisation with a rich history of preserving and protecting India’s rich natural heritage. They work closely with the government for the conservation of forests and wildlife inside as well as outside legally designated protected areas in India in 23 states.