Tamil Nadu

Madras HC dismisses case against transferring 1,000 crocodiles from Chennai to Gujarat

Crocodiles at the Madras Crocodile Bank on the East Coast Road. File

Crocodiles at the Madras Crocodile Bank on the East Coast Road. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Madras High Court on Wednesday dismissed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed against the ongoing transfer of around 1,000 crocodiles from Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT) to Greens Zoological Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (GZRRC) in Gujarat.

Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice N. Mala dismissed the PIL petition with an observation that when the experts were satisfied with facilities available at GZRRC, supported by Reliance Industries Limited, the court would not want to interfere with such a decision.

Pointing out that the petitioner had not submitted any materials to controvert the decision taken by the experts, the Bench said: "We are, therefore, of the opinion that the objection of the petitioner to transfer the 1, 000 crocodiles is devoid of merits and without any factual basis."

Authoring the verdict, Justice Mala said, the Supreme Court had made it clear that the approach of the court in such issues should be eco-centric and not anthropocentric. Explaining the term eco-centric, the court had stated that it was basically intended at protecting both humans and non humans.

"The rescue and rehabilitation of the crocodiles in the present case will have to be viewed from eco-centric angle. Wild animals are not the property of the State or Central government or any organisation or individuals. They are the wealth of the nation and no one can claim ownership over them," she wrote.

In the present case, MCBT had conceded before the court that it does not have the financial backing to take care of the proliferating number of crocodiles in its facility near Chennai and had also vouched for the state-of-the-art facilities available at GZRRC in Gujarat after a personal inspection.

"Further, we have perused the photographs produced by the fourth respondent (MCBT) to show how comfortably the crocodiles are housed in the third respondent's (GZRRC) rescue centre compared to the crammed way in which they are kept in the fourth respondent's facility," the Bench added.

The judges also criticised the litigant for having filed the case seeking a probe by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Crime Branch- Criminal Investigation Department (CB-CID) or a Special Investigation Team (SIT) regarding the transfer of the crocodiles without verifying the amended master plan of GZRRC in Gujarat and without undertaking proper research.

"In spite of the shortcomings, we had entertained the PIL only because of our concern for the welfare of animals. We now reject the prayer for investigation by CBI or CB-CID or SIT," the Bench concluded. A. Viswanathan, 76, of Chintadripet in Chennai had filed the PIL petition in June this year.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2022 1:04:46 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madras-hc-dismisses-case-against-transferring-1000-crocodiles-from-chennai-to-gujarat/article65752934.ece