Can Mohanlal Keep His Ivory Tusks?

Published: 28th February 2016 04:51 AM  |   Last Updated: 28th February 2016 09:25 AM   |  A+A-

KOCHI: The Union Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoEF) is making an exception for Malayalam actor Mohanlal that will allow him to keep a pair of elephant tusks found in his home during an income-tax search in 2011.

Accordingly, it has given him permission to declare his ivory stock to the state government/chief wildlife warden.

The actor had written to MoEF requesting relaxation of the law, which prohibits possession of contraband wildlife products.

Union.jpgA senior forest officer confirmed to Express that the actor did declare a pair of ivory tusks to the office of the chief wildlife warden and that the department is examining the details of the declaration.

Once the formalities are over, the department would give Mohanlal a licence to possess the wildlife articles.

The pair of elephant tusks was seized from the actor’s home at Thevara during an income tax raid in 2011.

Though forest officials registered a case against Mohanlal at the Kodanadu range under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 for illegal possession of ivory, no action was taken against him. After that, a flurry of cases were registered against him in various courts.

Later, Mohhanlal sent in a plea to MoEF asking to be allowed to keep the tusks.

In response, the ministry recently informed him that it has initiated a review of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which would also reconsider existing rules governing declaration of wildlife articles.

The actor was directed to take up his matter with the Kerala government's chief wildlife warden under Section 40 (4) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The actor did as directed.

However, Om Prakash Kaler, additional principal chief conservator of forests, said the Union Ministry directive would be applicable only to Mohanlal.

Conservationists have raised questions whether the pair of tusks are all that the 2011 raid unearthed.

Heritage Animal Task Force secretary V K Venkitachalam said 13 pairs of ivory tusks were seized from Mohanlal's house during the raid.

However, officials refused to reveal the real inventory of seized articles.

Venkitachalam pointed out that the state's Forest Department has not submitted a detailed chargesheet in the case despite the passage of five years.

The Bare Facts

The Declaration of Wildlife Stock Rules, 2003, permit individuals in possession of a scheduled wild animal, or an article made from any scheduled animal, wholly or in part, to declare it to the Forest Department 

Possession of such items without an ownership certificate (now provided under the new Amnesty Scheme of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972), is tantamount to unlawful possession of government property, and hence, punishable.


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