The Madras High Court on Tuesday asked the Tamil Nadu government if it had not learnt a lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic that one cannot fight against nature.
“Have you not learnt a lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic? Has it not advised you not to fight with nature?” the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy asked.
These were the questions posed by the court when a public interest writ petition from a devotee of Sriranganatha Swamy temple in Srirangam in Tiruchirappalli, praying for a direction to the state to file a report on the protection of shrine elephants, came up for hearing on Tuesday.
As per Rule 4(4) of the Tamil Nadu Captive Elephants (Management and Maintenance) Rules, an elephant must be maintained by the same mahout and cavady (mahout’s assistant) during its entire lifespan.
However, it was defied by the temple management by ousting the services of the mahout, who had put in 27 years of service, the petitioner said.
After asking the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department to ensure that the temple elephants are treated humanely and with dignity across the state, the bench directed the department to file a status report on the implementation of the rules.
“No person can be allowed to treat any animal in a bad manner, leave alone the elephants, which is getting gradually extinct…it is a beautiful creature”, the bench observed.
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