In what comes as a setback for actor Mohanlal, the Kerala High Court on Monday observed that the case against the actor for possessing ivory stands, prima facie. According to media reports, the order was issued by the court after a division bench heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by AA Paulouse, a native of Udyogamandal, in Kochi.
According to a report by The New Indian Express (TNIE), the petition was challenging the Kerala governmentâ€™s order of allowing the actor to own the four ivory artefacts, which were seized from his house in Kochi in 2012.
The petitioner, as per the media reports, had asked for the state government to ensure that an effective investigation is conducted into this case which has remained pending before the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court in Perumbavoor.
The government, when asked by the court as to whether there was any offence at the time the ivory was seized from the actor, said that there was a case registered by the forest department. Abraham P Meachinkara, who was the counsel for the petitioner, submitted that the Meckappala Forest Station in the Kodanad Range had registered a criminal case against the actor after the ivory was seized from the actorâ€™s house. The court questioned as to how legal sanctity can be given to the actor to own the elephant tusks if it is known that a crime had already been committed.
The petitioner, according to a TNIE report, stated that on the day that the ivory was seized, Mohanlal did not have a certificate of possession as given under Section 42 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
The court, according to media reports, observed that the alleged act of actor Mohanlal can prima facie be charged as an offence under section 39 (3) of the Wild Life Protection Act, which states that â€śNo person shall, without the previous permission in writing of the Chief Wildlife Warden or the authorised officer can acquire or keep in his possession, custody or control of government property.â€ť