Agartala: The High Court of Tripura has appointed a High-Powered Committee to carry out a thorough and detailed physical inspection of all the Shri Radhe Krishna Temple Elephant Welfare Trust at Jamnagar in Gujarat.
Sudipa Nath, a practicing advocate of Agartala, had filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) with prayers to seek a direction restraining transfer and transportation of captive bred elephants from Northeast India to the trust in Jamnagar in Gujarat.
The petitioner had sought for an order directing an inquiry into the past transfers and transport of elephants from Northeast India states to the Shri Radhe Krishna Temple Elephant Welfare Trust at Jamnagar in Gujarat.
Sudipa Nath also submitted with prayers to direct the authorities to reclaim the elephants from trust at Jamnagar, and to remove them from the ‘life of torture, suffering and cruelty.’
After hearing both the sides, Chief Justice Indrajit Mahanty and Justice S. G. Chattopadhyay of High Court of Tripura appointed a High-Powered Committee (HPC) under the Chairmanship of Justice Deepak Verma (Former Judge, Supreme Court of India) to look into the issue.
The high court requested the HPC to carry out the inspection by November 17.
Director General of Forests and Head of Project Elephant Division of the MoEF, Member Secretary, Central Zoo Authority, and Chief Wildlife Wardens of Tripura and Gujarat have also been appointed members of the High-Powered Committee (HPC).
The High Court of Tripura also said in its order that the chairman of the HPC shall co-opt an expert having experience of elephant management as a member of of the committee. The Chairman of HPC may also consider taking assistance of the Chairman, Animal Welfare Board of India, the order said.
The court ordered that the members of the HPC shall carry out a thorough and detailed physical inspection of the Elephant Trust at Jamnagar. The HPC shall be entitled to access and inspect all areas and facilities of the Trust.
The high court order said the HPC shall be entitled to access and inspect all documents of the Elephant Trust at Jamnagar and be entitled to interview and question the staff and officers of the Trust.
The high court directed the officials of the Elephant Trust not to interfere with or restrict the members of the HPC from carrying out their inspection in any manner. The Chairman of HPC shall be entitled to take assistance of as many professionals, including photographers, videographers, vets, architects as he deems fit, for the purpose of the inspection.
The Chairman of the HPC may direct formation of one or more groups consisting of at least 3 members to carry out a physical inspection and look into the allegation that the elephants are purported to be captured from the wild.
The HPC has also been directed to make a report within a period of two weeks from the date of communication of the order.
The Chairman of the HPC shall then forward his recommendation Elephant-wise to the concerned Chief Wildlife Warden either recommending or not recommending the completion of the transfers, as the case may be, the high court order said.
The high court directed the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to issue necessary directions to all Chief Wild Life Wardens to take all steps necessary to curb and put to an end, the capturing of wild elephants.
The high court ordered a census of all elephants in captivity of private persons or government departments and creation of an inventory with their name, details of ownership certificate, microchip number and photograph.
The high court also directed a proper DNA sequencing for new offspring to be conducted so as to identify and prevent capture of young elephants from the wild.
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