New Delhi | The Supreme Court today sought response from the Centre, Animal Welfare Board of India and nine states on a plea seeking steps for protection and welfare of elephants held in captivity including a complete ban on their sale, gifting and use in religious festivals.
The questions raised require consideration. Issue notice. List it after eight weeks, a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said. The PIL, filed by six organisations and individuals including Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, has said that the number of captive elephants kept by private persons and religious institutions is over 3,000.
The figure of captive elephants is more than those which are with the forest department, zoos and circus and they are being traded openly and subjected to cruelty in violation of laws like the Wild Life (Protection) Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Advocate Aparna Bhat, appearing for the PIL petitioners, sought de-tagging of the PIL with another one which pertained to the elephants living in forests being killed on railways tracks by trains.
The bench agreed with the plea saying that the PIL raises issues which are different as it relates to domestic captive elephants. The present writ petition brings to light the deplorable state of captive elephants across India in violation of various national and state laws and norms.
Several reports show that elephants which are held in captivity are treated cruelly, and are suffering from severe health problems due to lack of proper welfare and upkeep measures. The conditions in which many of these elephants are held are in direct violation of relevant laws and it is urged that immediate steps need to be taken to ensure their protection and welfare, the plea said.
Besides the Centre and Animal Welfare Board, the plea has made Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Punjab and their Chief Wildlife Wardens as parties in the case.
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