SC stays amnesty scheme to legalise 289 captive elephants

The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed a Kerala government notification dated February 26, 2016, which offered an amnesty period for those keeping 289 captive elephants without valid ownership certificates.

While hearing arguments furthered by counsel for the petitioner, Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre and intervener Gauri Maulekhi, the bench, headed by Justice Dipak Mishra, passed an order staying the operation of this notification and directing the state government not to issue any fresh ownership certificate.

In addition, all ownership certificates issued under the notification have been withdrawn and suspended.

The People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (India) had earlier sent a legal notice to the Kerala government seeking withdrawal of the February 26 order, warning the scheme will be a mockery of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, which prohibits illegal capture, trade, and custody of wild animals such as elephants, as well as the purpose of the interim order of the Supreme Court of India dated August 18, 2015.

Central notification

The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, allowed declaration of captive elephants either within 30 days of its enactment or during the period of an amnesty scheme notified by the Central government in 2003, PETA noted.

The 2003 amnesty scheme was offered through the Declaration of Wildlife Stock Rule, 2003, which required wildlife articles to be declared within 180 days from the date of notification of the Rule (18th April to 18th October 2003).

The State government’ s request on February 3, 2012, for extension of the amnesty period was denied by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.

The interim order of the Supreme Court dated August 18, 2015, directed the Chief Wildlife Warden to see that all the captive elephants in Kerala are counted and in the absence of requisite certificate under Section 42 of the 1972 Act and declaration made under Section 40, to initiate appropriate action against the owners.

Directive to owners

In another move towards preventing illegal movement and trade of wild animals, the Supreme Court on Wednesday warned the Elephant Owners Association that people keeping elephants were not allowed to part with the animals nor transport them beyond State limits.

Welcoming this relief provided by the Supreme Court, Manilal Valliyate, PETA India Director of Veterinary Affairs, said:

“Capturing an elephant is prohibited under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, yet many captive elephants have been captured illegally from the wild, separated from their mothers as babies, beaten into submission, and transported to Kerala for use as tourist attractions and in temples. By providing amnesty to the owners of ill-gotten elephants, the Kerala government’s proposal would have propped up the cruel and illegal elephant trade”.

When contacted by The Hindu , Chief Wildlife Warden G. Harikumar said he was yet to see the Supreme Court order.

Apex court stays February-26 government notification granting amnesty

People for Ethical Treatment of Animals sends legal notice to government

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 8:16:56 AM |

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