The Supreme Court has refused to interefere withGauhati High Court’s order upholding the Assam Government's seizure order against two Elephants who were being transported to another State allegedly for religious purposes.

Accordingly, a bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Sanjay Kumar observed, “In our opinion, at this stage, we ought not to interfere with the impugned order by which the order of the Additional Sessions Judge, No.2 (FTC), Tinsukia passed on 24.06.2021 was quashed and set aside. The Additional Sessions Judge had directed in substance lifting of the seizure order and permit the petitioner to have custody of the elephants on execution of bond of Rupees Thirty Lakhs (Which is Rupees Fifteen Lakhs for each of these two elephants)”.

The bench while refusing to interfere with the impugned judgment of the High Court, requested the Trial Court to conclude the proceedings as expeditiously as possible, preferably within a period of six months.

The bench further noted that the elephants should be given proper care while in the State’s custody or captivity.

AOR Anilendra Pandey appeared for the petitioner and Senior AAG Nalin Kohli appeared for the respondent.

In the present matter, the allegation against the petitioner was the commission of certain offences punishable under the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. The petitioner claimed to be the owner of two elephants for which he had an ownership certificate issued by the State of Arunachal Pradesh.

These elephants were seized by the wildlife authorities in the State of Assam on the ground that these were being transported for sale in a different State without proper permission.

The petitioner’s contention, however, was that the elephants were being carried to the State of Odisha for religious purpose and there was no intention to sell these animals there.

In the matter, the Charge sheet has been filed before the Sessions Court at Tinsukia, Assam.

The petitioner approached the Court of CJM, Tinsukia, Assam, seeking zimma of the aforesaid two elephants claiming himself to be the owner of seized elephants, however, the petition was rejected.

Being aggrieved by the order he then approached the revisional Court, where the Addl. Sessions Judge, No.2 (FTC), Tinsukia allowed the revision. Accordingly, the seized elephants were given in the custody of the petitioner, on execution of a bond of Rs.30,00,000/- (rupees thirty lacs) only, (Rs.15,00,000/- for each elephant), with further direction to produce the elephants before the Court, if required in future.

The High Court then while setting aside the order of the trial court had observed in the impugned judgment, “After going through the entirety of the matter, there cannot be any dispute that the forfeiture of seized article can be done only at the conclusion of the trial by the trial court and in the present matter in hand, some crucial aspect has to be ascertained as has been challenged in the present petition as to the mode of transfer, ownership etc. The investigation is on full swing and certain serious lapses and deformity in the contents of the documents/certificates issued to the respondent(s) has been raised before this Court, and the same, can equally be raised before the trial court. Solely on the ground that this petition has been preferred challenging order of the revisional court, this Court has no power to go beyond the order under challenge, is not sustainable. The power vested under Section 482 CrPC is of wide plentitude and it can take care of almost all the situations including subsequent event, where the interference by the High Court became necessary, if judiciously and consciously exercised. While exercising inherent power of quashing under Section 482 CrPC, High Court can take into consideration any special features which appear in a particular case to consider whether it is expedient and in the interest of justice to interfere into the order of a court of law. The main object of the provision of Section 42 is to provide supervisory to the High Court so that it can give effect to any order under the court or to prevent misuse of process of any court”.

Resultantly, the bench disposed of the matter.


Petitioner: Anilendra Pandey, AOR Pushpenu Shukladu, Adv. Priya Kashyap, Adv. Rajeev Kumar Ranjan, Adv.

Respondent: Nalin Kohli, Sr. A.A.G., Diksha Rai, AOR Nimisha Menon, Adv. Sharthak Sharma, Adv. Anshul Malik, Adv. Arijit Dey, Adv. Apurva Sachdev, Adv.

Cause Title: Sri Chow Sonjit Pomong v. The State Of Assam & Ors.

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