Karnataka HC takes suo motu cognisance of unnatural death of elephants

The court stated that whether inside the sanctuary or outside, the elephants and other wildlife would need care.
Elephant image used for representational purposes only.
Elephant image used for representational purposes only. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

BENGALURU: Initiating suo motu public interest litigation over the unnatural death of elephants, including the recent death of Dasara elephant, Ashwathama, owing to electrocution, the Karnataka High Court on Friday sought a response from the Union and State governments on the measures taken to ensure the safety and protection of the jumbos and other wildlife.

A division bench of Chief Justice N V Anjaria and Justice K V Aravind passed the order after taking suo motu cognisance of media reports on the recent unnatural death of elephants.

“The successive and repeated incidents of the death of elephants in Karnataka in different areas due to electrocution or for other unnatural causes is a serious matter to worry. The report of the media reflects that the incidents take place for want of diligence on the part of the authorities concerned in charge of ensuring safety measures for the elephants in particular, and the wildlife in general...,” the court observed.

The court stated that whether inside the sanctuary or outside, the elephants and other wildlife would need care. “Their safety is to be ensured at all costs by keeping the vigil and by taking appropriate measures. The forest and other authorities owe a statutory duty in this regard. Their exposure to electrocution or other unnatural causes of death has to be prevented. The elephants and wildlife have the right to live in a safe environment, not to die an unnatural death, as they stand under statutory protection. This court invokes its power under Article 226 of the Constitution to suo motu registered Public Interest Petition,” the court added.

The response was sought by the court on the five aspects such as what measures are presently taken for ensuring the safety and protection of elephants and other wildlife assets in the state, what are steps proposed to be taken in future, to prevent such instances of unnatural deaths, what is the statutory machinery activated by the authorities in this regard, what is the mechanism adopted and developed for the safety and safeguard of the elephants and other wildlife within the sanctuary area as well as outside the reserved area and lastly, in what way the authorities fix the liability of officers when such kind of deaths of elephants and wildlife occur.

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