The Thrissur Vigilance Court on Thursday issued notice to the state government in connection with the alleged seizure of ivory tusks from Mohanlal’s residence in Kochi, during an IT raid in July last year. While considering the petition filed by Anil Kumar of Kottayam, Vigilance Court judge V Bhaskaran issued the notice to the additional legal advisor and postponed the case to October 11 for further hearing. The petitioner argued that the IT sleuths had recovered 19 ivory tusks from Mohanlal’s residence during the raid, following reports that he had amassed wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income. But in the first information report submitted 11 months after the incident, the investigation team said that they had recovered only a pair of elephant tusks. Kumar also argued that Forests Minister K B Ganesh Kumar misused his office by writing a letter to Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan, requesting to relax some of the provisions in the union ministry directive with an aim to save his friend and cine actor Mohanlal from the case.
Counsel K P Ramachandran, who appeared for the petitioner, said that the Principal Secretary to government and the minister himself, by misusing their offices, had written separate letters to the Deputy Inspector General (Wildlife), Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and Union Minister, requesting that those possessing wildlife articles be given one more opportunity to declare it.
According to a union ministry directive on April 18, 2003, the union ministry gave a chance to people to declare wildlife articles in their possession and the matter was to be reported to the chief wildlife warden within 180 days from the date. According to the directive, those who failed to make the declaration in 2003, are not allowed to keep wild animals or wildlife articles with them.
It is the responsibility of the Forest Department and the Forests Minister to take action against those who flout rules. But the minister violated the oath of secrecy by writing a letter to shield his friend and thus misused the power he inherited as a minister, Ramachandran argued. The petitioner sought action against minister Ganesh Kumar, forest and wildlife principal secretary, Kodanadu divisional forest officer, principal of forest conservator and chief wildlife warden for misusing the power. The petitioner also submitted before the court the documents and copies of the letter written by the minister and principal secretary.