KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Monday sought the view of the state government and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wild Life) and Chief Wild Life Warden on a petition challenging the government order granting ownership certificate to actor Mohanlal for the four ivory artefacts seized from the actor’s home at Thevara in Kochi in 2012. The court issued the order on the petition filed by AA Paulose of Udyogamandal, Kochi seeking to quash the government order.
The petitioner also sought a directive to the state government to take effective steps for completion of investigation in the case pending before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court I I I , Perumbavoor. When the petition came up for hearing, the court orally observed that the alleged act of the actor will prima facie attract offence under section 39 (3) of the Wild Life Protection Act. The section prevents possession of ivory without previous permission in writing of the Chief Wild Life Warden.
The court also asked the government whether there was any offence at the time of seizure of the article. The government said that a case was registered by the forest department. Counsel for the petitioner Abraham P Meachinkara submitted that Meckappala Forest Station, in Kodanad Range had registered a criminal case against the actor after four elephant tusks were seized in June 2012 by the Income Tax authorities.
The petitioner said that on the date of seizure, the actor did not have a certificate of possession as mandated under Section 42 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Therefore, the government order granting him a certificate of possession was unsustainable. In fact, it had been issued in total violation of the provisions of law.
Four tusks government property as per law
The four tusks in the possession of the actor were government property as per law. In fact, several persons were being prosecuted in the state for even minor violation of the provisions of the Wild Life (Protection) Act. The principle of equality before the law and equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the Constitution was given a go-by by the state government and forest department. Instead of taking steps for the prosecution of the offender, the government and forest department had acted in collusion to bypass the law and to protect the actor.