Delhi HC pulls up man claiming ownership of elephant; warns him not to use, exploit court

The Delhi High Court said on Tuesday pulled up a man who claimed ownership of an elephant, saying he just wants to do cruelty on the animal and exploit it for commercial purpose.

“You are filing contempt petition against the officials who are taking care of the elephant. Stop using us as a pawn. This is all a joke on the court. You just want to do cruelty on the animal. You want to exploit the animal for commercial purpose,” a bench of justices Manmohan and Mini Pushkarna said.

Yusuf Ali had sought contempt action against some of officials of the AAP government for trying to take possession of the elephant in alleged violation of judicial orders.

The court said the man should be happy that the animal is being looked after so well for the last four years.

“You should have a heart for animals. You are troubled only because you want him for commercial interest and gains. You are not meant to exploit the court process. He thinks he can exploit the court? This is not fair, you are using court,” the bench said.

It further said, “How much an elephant eats, do you know. You yourself are saying that the petitioner is a poor man, how will he take care of the animal? You can’t get ownership settled in this petition.”

According to petitioner Ali, the high court by interim orders dated April 5, 2019 and May 14, 2019 had directed the government not to take possession of any of the elephants owned by him.

However, on July 6, 2019, officials from the wildlife and forest department tried to take away the elephant Laxmi by force in violation of court orders.

The man has also challenged a single judge’s decision declining to entertain his plea against the government’s February 19, 2019 direction to its officials to take possession of his elephants.

Delhi government standing counsel Santosh Kumar Tripathi and lawyer Arun Panwar said the petitioner does not have the means to provide proper facilities and diet to the animal.

By this petition, they are trying to settle the ownership issue and they are threatening the officials.

Tripathi apprised the court about the status report of the forest department which said the appeal was filed against the single judge’s March 2019 order upholding the translocation of six elephants including Laxmi in view of the circumstances that they were housed in unhygienic conditions which was wholly unsuitable for them.

After sometime, the counsel for the petitioner informed the court that Ali does not wishes to press the petition and the bench said the “petition is dismissed as withdrawn”.

The division bench had earlier asked the authorities to file an affidavit indicating the exact location of the elephant and the condition in which the animal is kept.

In pursuance to the direction, the Delhi forest department said after confiscating the elephant, it was handed over to the Department of Forests and Wildlife of Haryana government to rehabilitate and provide care to the animal.

It said in pursuance to the high court’s direction, the wildlife team arrived at Elephant Rescue Centre in Haryana’s Yamuna Nagar for conducting the medical check-up of Laxmi and it was found to be fit and healthy on the basis of physical appearance, behaviour, feeding habits among others.

“The veterinary doctor and the wildlife team further observed that the facility where the elephant is being housed by the forest and wildlife department of Haryana, provides proper upkeep facilities, including ample walking space, clear water, open shed facilities, bathing pool, etc, as per the guidelines issued by the government of India,” the report said.

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Ali, in his contempt plea, had alleged that on July 6, 2019, the Delhi wildlife and forest officials came to the Yamuna Bank area, where the petitioner and his family were spending some time with his elephant and tried to take it away.

He alleged that when he and his family tried to stop them, the officials manhandled his wife, injuring her, and also threw stones at the elephant which ran into the forest near Akshardham.

He had further alleged that even the police took the side of the wildlife and forest officials by lodging an FIR against him and his wife for obstructing government servants from doing their job.

Ali sought action against the forest and wildlife officials for allegedly violating court orders by attempting to seize the elephant.

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