CHENNAI: The Madras high court on Tuesday ordered notice to Tamil Nadu forest department on a PIL seeking to close all illegal elephant shelters in the state.
Admitting a plea moved by petitioner S Muralidharan, a division bench of Justice S Manikumar and Justice Subramonium Prasad directed the forest department to file its response in four weeks.
According to the petitioner, elephants are protected under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. As provided under the Act, Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam of Kancheepuram district, with prior approval from authorities, has three elephants – Sandya, Jayanthi, Indumathi – in its possession. The mutt uses the tuskers to conduct rituals like Gaja pooja and other ceremonies.
Meanwhile, members of Tree Foundation India and Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre of Bangalore, in the guise of eradicating cruelty to animals, took the elephants from the mutt and kept them in their private camp without the consent of Hindu religious and charitable endowments department or other government authorities, the petitioner said.
Alleging that the NGOs were collecting donations from various countries on the pretext of maintaining the animals in their private camp, the petitioner requested the court to direct the authorities to take action and close such unauthorised elephant camps in the state.