Gauhati HC directs Assam’s forest department to pass fresh order on transporting elephants to Gujarat

After Assam Addl. AG submitted that air-conditioned wagons for the jumbos’ transport were not available, the bench directed for fresh orders.

Published: 25th June 2019 08:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 25th June 2019 08:52 PM   |  A+A-

Karnataka_elephant_Ranga

For representational purposes. (File Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The Gauhati High Court has disposed of a PIL that sought its intervention in Assam government’s move to transport four captive elephants to Ahmedabad for the Jagannath Rath Yatra on July 4.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice (acting) Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Manish Choudhury, on Tuesday ordered that Assam’s Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW), Ranjana Gupta, would pass a fresh order considering various aspects such as prevailing heat-wave conditions, the elephants’ safety etc. 

After Assam’s Additional Advocate General Dilip Mazumdar submitted that air-conditioned wagons for the jumbos’ transport were not available as intimated to him by railway authorities, the bench directed that fresh orders be passed on or before June 27. 

The petitioners’ counsel Bhaskar Dev Konwar threw light on the May 4, 2016 order of the Supreme Court that directed, “The persons who are in possession of the elephants shall not transfer the elephants outside the state nor shall they part with the elephants by way of their transfer in any manner”. 

He said while granting permission for the elephants’ transport, the CWLW had not considered the SC’s interim order, the distance to be covered and the prevailing heat-wave conditions. 

The Assistant Solicitor General of India submitted that when he asked for instruction from authorities concerned in Central government, it was orally communicated to him that some instruction was likely to be sent to the state government. 

The railway authorities said they decided to keep the transit permits on hold as the forest department of Assam did not respond to their written request to give a “clarification” on the SC’s interim order.

Earlier, animal rights activists protested the elephants’ transit as they feared the animals will be exposed to extreme heat over several days leading to unnecessary pain and suffering. They observed that the transport would be cruelty to animals within the meaning of Section 11(d)(e) and (f) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. 

They said it would now be interesting to see if the CWWL would continue with the process of transporting the juvenile elephants to Jagannath temple, “which has the poorest record in elephant management”.

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