Elephant owners cannot be unkind to the animals, must follow law: SC | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Elephant owners cannot be unkind to the animals, must follow law: SC

Elephant owners, including temples, cannot be unkind to them and must follow the law, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.

india Updated: Oct 20, 2016 23:04 IST
PTI
A chained temple elephant sits upon the command of his mahout as he is prepared for the Pooram festival procession at a temple in Thrissur.
A chained temple elephant sits upon the command of his mahout as he is prepared for the Pooram festival procession at a temple in Thrissur. (AP File Photo)

Elephant owners, including temples, cannot be unkind to them and must follow the law, the Supreme Court said on Thursday.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Amitava Roy observed that those keeping elephants in captivity, whether private individuals or temples, do not care for the animals or the law.

“(The) whole problem is that the law is not obeyed. Whatever you do, you can’t be unkind to elephants”, the bench said, after elephant owners told the bench that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act already exists.

The counsels appearing for elephant owners and temples said the animals were taken proper care of and the owners were given licences by the local commissioner with proper conditions.

The bench asked the counsels when the statutory provisions already existed, what was the need for the court’s directions.

The apex court had on March 29 asked the Centre and several states including Kerala and Goa to apprise it on whether a person can keep an elephant in his custody as the owner under the wildlife protection law.

It had asked that if there is no prohibition on keeping an elephant, then what rule would govern the upkeep of a wild animal like the pachyderm.

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) had submitted a report regarding the upkeep of three elephants and alleged violation of Wildlife (Protection) Act by two resorts in Goa.

Two applications filed by six organisations and individuals including Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, had said the number of captive elephants kept by private persons and religious institutions was over 3,000.

The two pleas had alleged that the elephants, used for religious processions or rides, were chained and ill-treated in violation of the statutory provisions.

Earlier, on December 8, last year the apex court had sought reply from the Centre, Rajasthan and Goa on pleas alleging that cruelty was being meted out to elephants used for such rides in these states.

The court had taken note of pleas alleging cruelty meted out to captive elephants in Kerala, particularly in temples, and directed the top wildlife officer to undertake a head count of all of them and act against those keeping them without the requisite permission.