In an unprecedented move the Supreme Court in India has called for the “registration of all of the captive elephants in Kerala” and an immediate count of said animals. This action is being taken to “hold people accountable” for any and “all acts of cruelty” these elephants have endured for far too long.
Historically, the majority of these elephants have been used in festivals for religious reasons. In addition they have been used in the logging industry.
Skirting a 1960 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals law for decades, festival promoters and private owners, among others, have been subjecting elephants to untold methods of “physical and mental “abuse. But not for much longer.
The bench will not only make these entities and private individuals (including mahouts) liable for any act of cruelty. It will also give authorities the right to bring criminal charges against the violators and “the right to confiscate the elephant” as well. Police will soon have the ability to request from a “mahout accompanying an elephant” an ‘RC’ or registration certificate.” Without it they will have to face these serious consequences.
This all came about through a petition “to ban the use of elephants in religious functions, processions, and other events.” It was filed primarily by the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre in Bangalore, Karnataka, India through their advocate, Aparna Bhat. Justices Dipak Misra and R. Bhanumathi presided over the public interest hearing.
Soon temples will have to be registered and declare the number of elephants they will use for festivals, reports Harish V. Nair for the Daily Mail India.
Their days of hiding behind their age-old claim that only those elephants performing in circuses (not those used in the name of religion) have the need to be “protected” (by the PCA laws) are about to be over.
photo credit: Shekhar Yadav