New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Chief Wild Life Warden of each state to conduct a survey to ascertain and identify elephants in captivity and whether the owners of these elephants have an Ownership Certificate.
A bench headed by Justice Madan B Lokur said if the owners do not have the Ownership Certificate, then after following the mandatory procedures required by law, the Ownership Certificate may be granted provisionally to them.
The apex court asked the Chief Wildlife Wardens of every states to complete the survey by December 31 and submit the report to Ministry of Environment and Forest.
“The information so collected by the Chief Wild Life Warden shall be communicated to the Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. The Ministry will file an affidavit on the basis of the information collected by the Chief Wild Life Wardens so that at least there is a consensus about the elephants in captivity,” the bench said in its order and posted the matter for hearing in January 2019.
The apex court was hearing a petition related to the cruelty inflicted on captive elephants. Advocate Aparna Bhat appearing for an organisation ‘wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre’, which has filed the petition, told the court that elephants should be held in captivity only in exceptional circumstances. The lawyer claimed that 17 elephants held in captivity have died an unnatural death.