Madras HC Judge After Visiting Injured 60-Yr-Old Temple Elephant Urges State To Shift Elephants In Captivity To Govt Rehab Camps
The Madras High Court, Madurai Bench has recently urged the Tamil Nadu Government to shift the elephants in captivity to Government Rehabilitation Camps.
The High Court Judge on February 26, this year visited a 60-year-old female elephant named Lalitha along with some activists and noticed that she had wounds on her body parts and was having poor health.
Justice G.R. Swaminathan said, “The Secretary to Government, Environment and Forest Department should cause an inspection of all temple and other privately owned elephants. The direction of the Hon'ble First Bench that there should be no more acquisition of elephants by private individuals or religious institutions must be scrupulously and strictly enforced. Time has now come to take a call if all such elephants now in captivity (both temples and privately owned) should be shifted to Government Rehabilitation Camps.”
The Court directed that the Secretary to Government, Environment and Forest Department may coordinate with the Secretary to Government, HR&CE Department in the above regard.
“The Secretary to Government, HR&CE Department shall issue a direction to all the temples in Tamil Nadu not to acquire any elephants anymore”, said the Court.
In this case, the Court was hearing a petition filed by an animal rights activist who claimed that Lalitha was in requirement of medical aid whose custody was decided in the year 2020 by the Court. In the said year, the Court implemented some principles of child custody laws and handed over Lalitha’s custody to her previous owner in spite of the fact that her custody and possession were with another man.
The Court in view of this matter observed, “I am more than satisfied that the caretakers have miserably failed to measure up to the confidence reposed in them by this Court. They have forfeited the right to retain custody of Lalitha any further. … Proceedings to this effect shall be issued forthwith and without delay so that Dr.Kalaivanan can attend to Lalitha from tomorrow morning onwards (28.02.2023). Dr.Kalaivanan has to attend to her on a daily basis till she regains her normal health. Even though Dr.Kalaivanan is now working in Animal Husbandry Department, he was earlier associated with Forest Department and was in-charge of Mudhumalai Elephant Camp as Veterinarian.”
The Court also directed the doctor working in Animal Husbandry Department to submit a comprehensive report regarding the dietary and medical treatment plan through e-mail to the District Collector, Virudhunagar.
“Lalitha shall be given healthy and nutritious food as prescribed by the Doctor. The quality and quantity of water being made available for the elephant shall also be checked. If unsuitable hard water is being given, alternative arrangement shall be made”, ordered the Court.
The Court said that the doctor shall take a call as to whether treatment can be given at the existing spot.
“The shed is made up of tin sheet roof. Summer season has already started and every endeavour shall be made to keep the ambience as cool as possible and shift Lalitha to a better spot earliest. The District Administration shall take further steps based on the instruction to be given by the Doctor”, the Court further directed.
The Court asserted that a sum of Rs. 10,000/- shall be paid to the present Mahout and his assistant per month by the District Legal Services Authority.
“The Inspector of Police, Virudhunagar Town Police Station (jurisdictional police) is directed to ensure that the ambience is kept free of noise pollution”, observed the Court.
The Court noted that the drunk mahouts inflict terrible pain and cruelty on the elephants and that they are separated from their natural family and unable to bear the torture due to which the poor animals sometimes turn aggressive and violent.
The Court, therefore, directed the Secretary to Government, Environment and Forest Department to do an inspection of all temples and other privately owned elephants.
“The direction of the Hon'ble First Bench that there should be no more acquisition of elephants by private individuals or religious institutions must be scrupulously and strictly enforced”, said the Court.