KOCHI: In a serious lapse on the part of the State Government, the much touted Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules - 2012, framed for preventing abuse of elephants, was not tabled in the Assembly before being notified as a ‘rule’.
Replying to an RTI query, the State Information Officer stated that the examination carried out by the Information Commission had showed that there was no record to prove that the Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules-2012 (SRO No 870/2012) was tabled in the Kerala Assembly.
Speaking to ‘Express’ V K Venkitachalam, who filed the RTI query, said the government cheated people of the State with the false claim that the Kerala Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules-2003 was successfully amended to ensure better maintenance and welfare of captive elephants in the State.
By amending the 2003 Rule regarding the elephants, the government has actually weakened it by relaxing the existing rules in favour of captive elephant owners and festival organisers in the State.
It is believed that the government opted not to table the amended Rule in the Assembly fearing that it might expose some of its false claims,” he said. “By not tabling the amended Rule, the government has literally hoodwinked the people.
As of now, cases registered as per the the 2012 Rule will not stay in court as the the amended Rule was not ratified by the Assembly.
Also, no discussion was held in the Assembly about the amended Rule.
Meanwhile, elephant abuse cases registered by Forest Department officials, invoking provisions of the 2012 Rule, will not stand in court if the accused challenge it in the court,” he added.
When contacted by ‘Express,’ Forest Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan said, “I don’t know what went wrong with the Rule.
If the amended Rule was not tabled in the Assembly, after scrutiny by the subject committee, it cannot be termed as Rule.”
The Minister also sought time to crosscheck details of the Rule, while assuring that he would look into the matter.
Senior officials of the Forest Department also conceded that the officials concerned committed a serious mistake by not tabling the amended Rule in the Assembly.
They, meanwhile, stated that cases registered under the new Rule would not lose their ‘locus standi’ in the court.“There is no doubt the new Rule is valid, but not following the procedures before announcing it is intriguing and mysterious,” they said.
KFRI former director Dr P S Easa, who submitted the report based on which the State Government amended the 2003 Rule, echoed the same views of the Forest Department officials.