CHENNAI: To put an end to the exploitation of temple elephants as well as those owned by individuals, the Madras High Court on Tuesday suggested that the state government come up with a policy to prohibit private ownership of jumbos.
This came after Rangarajan Narasimhan, a devotee of the Srirangam temple, moved a plea seeking that the court direct the state to file a report on the protection of temple elephants. He also stated that the mahout of the Srirangam temple who worked for 27 years was removed from service without any notice a few years ago.
The petitioner said as per Rule 4(4) of the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, an elephant must be maintained by the same mahout and cavady (mahout’s assistant) during its entire lifespan. However, this was flouted.
Elephants owned by the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy Temple and other temples across the state saw poor upkeep and inhumane treatment, alleged the petitioner, seeking for the state to file a detailed report on the steps initiated in rehabilitating temple elephants.
On Tuesday, the first bench comprising the Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy hearing the submissions observed that persons who exploit elephants should be dealt with as mercilessly as they treat the animals.
The court suggested that the state has to come up with a policy decision to prohibit the private ownership of elephants in temples as well as by individuals.
The bench also added that the policy should be made in such a way that only the forest department has to own elephants for their proper maintenance.
During the hearing, the state contended that there is an exclusive place set up for such purposes in MR Palayam located between Tiruchy and Perambalur.
However, the bench recording the submissions directed the state to file a comprehensive report on the protection of elephants within eight weeks.