Kerala

Rules flouted to bail out Mohanlal in ivory case?

Forest dept. illegally issued ownership certificate to the actor, reveals document

Forest Department issued ownership certificates for four elephant tusks to actor Mohanlal by violating the “due process” of the Wildlife Act and without holding “proper inquiry regarding the legitimacy of tusks and ivory,” reveals a document of the Forest Department accessed by The Hindu.

The violations were highlighted in a statement of facts prepared by Surendrakumar, the present Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW), to be submitted before the Kerala High Court.

The document, forwarded to the Additional Chief Secretary, Forest and Wildlife Department, is yet to be submitted to the court. Yet, it was made available to all the senior law officers of the State and the Forest Department, sources said.

On his application, the government had on December 16, 2015 issued an order declaring the ownership of the elephant tusks to Mr. Mohanlal. However, the government order was not published in the official gazette. The possession of ivory and tusks surfaced following an income tax raid at the Kochi residence of the actor.

NOC issued

Recently, the government had issued a No Objection Certificate for withdrawing prosecution against the actor for the possession of ivory.

A perusal of the inventory report of the articles, noted the CWW, unearthed during the income tax raid revealed that the “inquiry regarding the source or legitimacy of possession of the ivory artefacts by V. Mohanlal was not conducted by the Assistant Conservator of Forest (Social Forestry). Based on those inventory reports, Chief Wildlife Warden issued Certificate of Ownership,” says the document.

Ownership certificate can be issued only after making inquiries and preparing inventories.

The Act specifies that certificate shall be issued to a person, who is in lawful possession of any wild animal or any animal article, trophy or uncured trophy. However, “the then Chief Wildlife Warden relied only the statements of Mr. Mohanlal that these artefacts were procured through inheritance. No attempt was made to verify the truthfulness of the statement of Mr. Mohanlal.”

The “possession of elephant tusks and ivory artefacts by V. Mohanlal is in violation of the above legal provisions. It is also evident that V. Mohanlal was not in lawful possession of the tusks when the certificate of ownership was issued to him,” the document says.

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Printable version | Aug 3, 2020 8:35:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/rules-flouted-to-bail-out-mohanlal-in-ivory-case/article31899665.ece

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