Not above the law: The Hindu Editorial

Not Above the Law: On Salman Khan case verdict: The Hindu Editorial

Not Above the Law: On Salman Khan case verdict: The Hindu Editorial

The stiff sentence of five years in jail awarded to actor Salman Khan for hunting blackbuck in Rajasthan’s Kankani village in 1998 should send out the message that stardom does not confer impunity. Unlike the average wildlife poaching case, where State forest departments struggle to gather credible evidence, the prosecution in the blackbuck case has been vigorously supported by the local Bishnoi community. What sets the case apart from so many other episodes of poaching and animal trapping in India’s forests is its naked celebration of blood sport. Stars like Khan, who is no stranger to controversy surrounding hunting expeditions, seem to think conservation is not serious business, and the clock can readily be turned back to an era when the wealthy and powerful organised ‘shikar’ parties to hunt for pleasure. That era is over. If the verdict of the Jodhpur court in the blackbuck case survives the appeals process, it would send out the powerful message that the judicial system feels no constraintin exerting the full weight of the law to protect threatened wildlife. Equally, it should bring a feeling of empowerment to forest department personnel and help them resist the intimidation that they routinely face from influential sections in the discharge of their duties. Protecting the blackbuck case verdict — and the witnesses who made it possible — is the challenge they face today.
The Wildlife (Protection) Act, the landmark law from 1972 that shields the diversity of India’s endangered animals mainly in 4% of its land area designated as protected, struggles to be effective and conviction rates are low. Besides restraining ‘VIP’ poachers, forest guards must combat organised hunting gangs that employ traps and snares for a thriving trade in animals, body parts and trophies. Even the population of the tiger, the most protected species, faces erosion due to poaching. At least 136 tigers were killed between 2014 and 2017, according to an estimate by the Wildlife Protection Society of India that includes official data on poaching. What is more, several species protected under the Schedules of the Wildlife Act are often found in areas that lie outside sanctuaries and are commonly hunted. Forest departments must see the need for greater vigilance in such territories, which they can exercise in partnership with local communities. The verdict in the Salman Khan case strikes a blow for these free-ranging animals, sending out the message that hunting of protected species is certain to invite severe penalties. The court makes the important observation that personalities who are capable of influencing the behaviour of others must naturally be conscious of what they do. It is to be hoped that this will convince the high and mighty that bloodsports are grotesquely incongruous in the present day when environmental concerns rule supreme and engaging in them invites deterrent action.


1) Stardom
Meaning: The state or status of being a very famous or talented entertainer or sports player.
Example: “Her rise to stardom has been meteoric”
2) Impunity
Meaning: Exemption from punishment or freedom from the injurious consequences of an action.
Example: “The impunity enjoyed by military officers implicated in civilian killings”
Synonyms: Immunity, Indemnity.
3) Poach
Meaning: Illegally hunt or catch (game or fish) on land that is not one’s own or in contravention of official protection.
Example: “20 tigers are thought to have been poached from national parks”
Synonyms: Plunder.
4) Prosecution
Meaning: The institution and conducting of legal proceedings against someone in respect of a criminal charge.
Example: “The organizers are facing prosecution for noise nuisance”
5) Vigorously
Meaning: In a way that involves physical strength, effort, or energy; strenuously.
Example: “she shook her head vigorously”
Synonyms: Strenuously, Forcefully.
6) Blood sport
Meaning: A sport involving the hunting, wounding, or killing of animals.
Example: “Blood sports such as dogfighting and cockfighting”
7) Controversy
Meaning: Prolonged public disagreement or heated discussion.
Example: “The design of the building has caused controversy”
Synonyms: Disagreement, Dispute.
8) Expedition
Meaning: A journey undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose, especially that of exploration, research, or war.
Example: “An expedition to the jungles of the Orinoco”
Synonyms: Journey, Voyage.
9) Turn back
Meaning: To return the same way that you came instead of continuing on your journey, or to make someone do this.
Example: Bad weather forced them to turn back.
10) Verdict
Meaning: An opinion or judgement.
Example: “This seems a fair verdict on the tabloids”
11) Constraint
Meaning: A limitation or restriction.
Example: “Time constraints make it impossible to do everything”
Synonyms: Restriction, Limitation.
12) Exert
Meaning: Make a physical or mental effort.
Example: “He needs to exert himself to try to find an answer”
Synonyms: Strive, Endeavour.
13) Empowerment
Meaning: Authority or power given to someone to do something.
Example: “Individuals are given empowerment to create their own dwellings”
14) Intimidate
Meaning: Frighten or overawe (someone), especially in order to make them do what one wants.
Example: “The forts are designed to intimidate the nationalist population”
Synonyms: Frighten, Menace.
15) Shield
Meaning: Protect from a danger, risk, or unpleasant experience.
Example: “He pulled the cap lower to shield his eyes from the glare”
16) Endangered
Meaning: (Of a species) seriously at risk of extinction.
Example: “Legislation to protect endangered species”
17) Designate
Meaning: Appoint (someone) to a specified office or post.
Example: “He was designated as prime minister”
Synonyms: Appoint, Nominate.
18) Conviction
Meaning: A formal declaration by the verdict of a jury or the decision of a judge in a court of law that someone is guilty of a criminal offence.
Example: “She had a previous conviction for a similar offence”
Synonyms: Sentence, judgement.
19) Combat
Meaning: Take action to reduce or prevent (something bad or undesirable).
Example: “An effort to combat drug trafficking”
Synonyms: Tackle, Attack.
20) Snare
Meaning: A trap for catching birds or mammals, typically one having a noose of wire or cord.
Example: “He came upon a hare struggling in an illegal snare”
Synonyms: Trap, Gin.
21) Thriving
Meaning: Prosperous and growing; flourishing.
Example: “The thriving business George has built up”
22) Vigilance
Meaning: The action or state of keeping careful watch for possible danger or difficulties.
Example: “Security duties that demand long hours of vigilance”
Synonyms: Surveillance, Attentiveness.
23) Deterrent
Meaning: A thing that discourages or is intended to discourage someone from doing something.
Example: “Cameras are a major deterrent to crime”
Synonyms: Disincentive, Discouragement.

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