State of Kerala refrained from issuing ownership certificate to the persons in possession of elephants

Supreme Court: Deciding a petition relating to the ownership of elephants in possession of the owners, the bench of Dipak Misra and Shiva Kirti Singh, J.J., directed the State of Kerala to refrain from issuing any ownership certificate to any of the persons in possession of the animals.

In the case where application was made to quash a notification dated 26.02.2016 and cancellation of ownership certificates in pursuance of the said notification, the petitioners contended that the State Government has no authority to issue such a notification however, an affidavit to the contrary was filed by the UOI to show that state government can issue notification subject to certain conditions as per Section 40 (4) of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

  • The Court also took note of the order dated 29.03.2016, where the belowmentioned 3 fundamental issues were framed by this Court: Whether any person can keep elephant in his custody like the owner, after the act has come into force?
  • Assuming no prohibition for keeping an elephant, what rule should govern the maintenance of the animal?
  • Who are the authorities for the maintenance and treatment of animals?

Considering that the interlocutory applications were inherently connected with the aforesaid issue, the Court said that the said applications shall be dealt with while dealing with the above-mentioned fundamental issues. The court, hence,held that until the final hearing of the case the persons in possession of animals shall not transfer the animals outside the State nor shall they part with the elephants by way of transfer in any manner. Also, if, in the meanwhile, any ownership certificate is issued, the same shall be withdrawn. [Wildlife Rescue And Rehabilitation Center v Union of India, 2016 SCC OnLine SC 499, decided on May 4, 2016]

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