Bombay HC Stays Transfer Of Mahadevi Elephant From Kolhapur To Jamnagar

Bombay HC Stays Transfer Of Mahadevi Elephant From Kolhapur To Jamnagar

The HPC passed the order based on a letter received from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for transfer of the aforesaid elephant.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Sunday, March 17, 2024, 12:32 AM IST
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Mumbai: The Bombay High Court stayed the transfer of the Mahadevi (Madhuri) from Kolhapur, to a temple trust in Jamnagar, Gujarat, observing that the elephant’s owner ought to have been given a hearing before passing such a transfer order.

The Kolhapur-based Swasthishri Jinsen Bhattark Pattacharya Mahaswami Sanstha Math (Karveer) filed a petition before the high court challenging the decision of the December 28, 2023, of the High Powered Committee (HPC) wherein it directed the Chief Conservator of Forests to transfer Mahadevi to the Radhe Krishna Temple Elephant Welfare Trust in Jamnagar.

The HPC passed the order based on a letter received from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for transfer of the aforesaid elephant.

The Chief Conservator of Forests , accordingly, then issued a no objection for the transfer on January 10. The petitioner made a representation to the HPC on February 7. Even before any hearing was granted, the Chief Conservator of Forests issued directions on February 13 for Mahadevi’s transportation.

The petitioner’s advocates, Surel Shah and Manoj Patil, submitted that they are the owners and have a declaration to the effect under the Section 40(2) of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. It further claimed that they have been taking good care of the elephant and the transfer is not warranted. It sought quashing of the HPC order contending that it was not given a hearing before passing such an order.

During the hearing on March 13, Advocate Shardul Singh sought to intervene on behalf of the Radhe Krishna Temple Elephant Welfare Trust, where the elephant is being transferred, which was allowed by the court.

The court noted that a declaration was issued to the Kolhapur trust under the Wild Life Protection Act. “In our view, the opinion of the owner ought to have been gathered prior to transfer of the said elephant inasmuch as it possesses a declaration under Section 40(2) of the Act of 1972 in its favour,” a bench of Justices AS Chandurkar and Jitendra Jain.

The high court has asked the HPC to decide on the petitioner’s representation within 15 days “after giving opportunity to all concerned parties”. Singh assured the bench that it would not take steps to transfer the said elephant to Jamnagar till the HPC’s decision.The bench has clarified that the decision of the HPC shall not be given effect for seven days after the same is communicated to the Kolhapur trust.

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