Supreme Court Stays Kerala Government’s Amnesty Scheme Intended to Legalise 289 Captive Elephants

For Immediate Release:
4 May 2016

Dr Manilal Valliyate + 91 9910817382; [email protected]
Shambhavi Tiwari + 91 9167907382; [email protected]

PETA India’s Advocate Had Earlier Fired Off a Legal Notice to the Kerala Government Warning It Against Encouraging Illegal Elephant Capture

 New Delhi – In a trumpeting victory for Kerala’s elephants, the Supreme Court of India today stayed a state government notification dated 26 February 2016 which offered an amnesty period to those keeping 289 captive elephants without valid ownership certificates, a move which would have made a mockery of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, and thus encouraged more illegal elephant keeping and capture. While hearing detailed arguments furthered by the counsels appearing for the petitioner, Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre and the intervener Gauri Maulekhi, the bench, headed by Justice Dipak Mishra, passed an order staying the operation of this notification and directing the state government not to issue any fresh ownership certificates. In addition, all ownership certificates issued under the notification have been withdrawn and suspended. In another move towards preventing illegal movement and trade of wild animals, the court warned the Elephant Owners Association that people keeping elephants are not allowed to part with the animals nor transport them beyond state limits.

While welcoming this relief provided by the Supreme Court, Dr Manilal Valliyate, PETA India Director of Veterinary Affairs, said, “Capturing an elephant is prohibited under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, yet many captive elephants are thought to have been captured illegally from the wild, separated from their mothers as babies, beaten into submission, and transported to Kerala for use as tourist attractions and in temples. By providing amnesty to the owners of ill-gotten elephants, the Kerala government’s proposal would have propped up the cruel and illegal elephant trade”.

PETA India had earlier fired off a legal notice to the government of Kerala calling for a halt to the government’s amnesty scheme. In the legal notice, PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – noted that the Indian Supreme Court directed the State of Kerala to take appropriate action against the illegal owners of captive elephants and that instead, via its 26 February 2016 order, Kerala acted in favour of illegal owners of elephants.

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