Madras High Court bats for welfare of temple elephants

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thursday suggested to the State that temple elephants be provided premises with natural habitat after it completes its daily rituals in temples. This after the petitioner, Rangarajan Narasimhan, an activist, alleged that the temple elephants are not supposed to be in concrete enclosures all the time. Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice PD Audikesavalu made the observations over alleged inhumane treatment at the Srirangam Ranganathaswamy temple.

“This Bench will go to one of the elephant parks and conduct a hearing, so we can see for ourselves. It’s just that, they are to be cared for and we have to see the conditions. Sometimes we can’t even trust a committee or someone. Subject to Covid, we will find a Sunday. We will not intrude into everyday life. We can directly ask the elephants and do a fact-finding exercise ourselves,” Chief Justice Banerjee orally observed.

The court then directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to file a report indicating the mahouts available in various temples. The court also directed forest authorities to take initiatives to ensure the welfare of captive elephants by conducting awareness programmes or reviving the regular functioning of District Committees meant for such purposes. If necessary, the doors of the judicial academies may be opened for awareness programmes, the court said and adjourned the plea by four weeks.

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