The Madras High Court on Thursday disposed of a public interest litigation (PIL) petition after recording the State government’s submission that it would not send back any of the temple elephants even though the Government of Assam was keen on taking back an elephant, following allegations of mistreatment.
First Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice M. Duraiswamy and Sunder Mohan recorded Additional Advocate General J. Ravindran’s statement that all the temple elephants were being taken care of very well and that the State government was firm on its decision that none of the pachyderms would be returned to Assam. “In view of the submission made by the learned AAG, we do not find reason to give any further direction to the respondents to take care of the elephants. In such view of the matter, the writ petition is disposed of,” the Bench wrote while closing the PIL petition filed by N. Sivaganesan of Nagapattinam district.
The petitioner, a wildlife conservationist, said he holds a doctorate on elephant interaction with forest ecosystem and that he had been working on Asian elephants since 1984. He said temples followed the practice of housing elephants as per the Agama Sastras for performing various rituals. Such temple elephants were also taken to rejuvenation camps every year. There was also a Standard Operating Procedure in place with respect to the infrastructure required for proper upkeep of the captive elephants in temples. He also pointed out that at present nine elephants from Assam were in the custody of various temples in Tamil Nadu.
Since a video of alleged mistreatment of one elephant had gone viral on the social media, the Assam government was taking steps to take back the elephant, the petitioner said, seeking a direction to the Tamil Nadu government to retain the temple elephants and take good care of them.