HC stays all further proceedings till March 28

The Madras High Court has granted till March 28 an interim stay of all further proceedings pursuant to a summons by the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve (MTR) authorities to a private veterinarian couple who rushed to an elephant camp and suggested to the forest veterinary assistant surgeon the manner and treatment to be given to an injured elephant calf in December last year.

Justice K. Venkataraman passed the interim order on petitions by Vinay and Revathi of Aravankadu, The Nilgiris District. The Special Government Pleader, Forests, took notice returnable by March 28. The Judge said there would be an interim stay till that date.

Dr. Vinay, a veterinarian of International Training Centre, Aravankadu, submitted that on December 12 he got an information from a Forest Range Officer, MTR, that an elephant calf, Ranga, kept in the elephant camp fell down and was writhing in pain and that the facilities in the camp’s veterinary hospital were not sufficient to diagnose the location of the fracture, if any, and to treat it. The centre’s field office at Mavanallah, about 10 km from the camp, had a mobile unit equipped with all facilities including portable X-Ray machine. As a veterinarian, he was duty bound to attend to the sufferings of animals. Hence, he along with his wife rushed to the camp. There, he was informed that there was no power supply for taking X-Ray and therefore they waited there. However, they discussed with the doctor there the diagnosis and the mode of treatment and made suggestions as they were called by the forest officials.

Later, he and his wife received summons dated March 1 under the Wildlife Protection Act issued from the office of the Chief Conservator of Forests and Field Director, MTR, asking them to appear before the Deputy Director, MTR, Mount Stewart Hill, Udhagamandalam. The summons did not say what the enquiry was about. The petitioner said they had not indulged in any act which violated the law. The summons was in the nature of interfering with the duties of a veterinary doctor.

Dr.Vinay sought quashing of the impugned summons and a direction to the Animal Welfare Board of India to formulate guidelines in respect of treating any animal, including wild animals, by any veterinary doctor, if proper facilities were not available.

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