The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a plea over the killing of elephants in Kerala, including the incident where a pregnant elephant died after it bit into a fruit stuffed with explosives in May this year. The plea states that animals, too, have the fundamental right to life as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and that this has been wildly violated in these cases.
A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde issued notices and sought responses from the Union government, Kerala government and others on the plea filed by advocate Avadh Bihari Kaushik. The advocate has referred to the incident that took place on May 27 this year, when a pregnant elephant was found standing in Velliyar river in Kerala's Palakkad district with a severely mangled mouth. The animal later died as it had suffered injures to its mouth while trying to eat fruits laden with explosives, an illegal practice among farmers to ward off stray animals from damaging their crops.
Referring to a media report, the plea has claimed that the injured elephant was first spotted by the villagers on May 25 and it was reported to the forest officers but no proper and timely medical aid and treatment could be provided to the animal. It alleged that some local wildlife activists and others have disclosed that as many as 17 elephants have been killed in that area during the last one year.
In his plea, Kaushik has said that another female elephant had met with a similar fate in April this year in Kollam district in Kerala. It is submitted that though only two cases reported above have been brought to public domain, the menace appears to be deep-rooted, huge and serious and prima facie, it appears to be a well-calculated and organised killing racket to kill the giant animal, said the plea.
It has sought that a probe in these incidents and similar cases, if any, in other states of the country be transferred to CBI and it should be conducted under the constant monitoring of the apex court. It has also sought the constitution of a special investigating team headed by a retired apex court judge to probe into the cases of killing of elephants. The plea also suggested a proper mechanism to curb this menace and to nab and punish the culprits to avoid such incidents in future.
The bench, which issued a notice on the plea, has tagged it with another pending petition, which has raised the issue related to the killing of animals.