Kerala court dismisses plea to withdraw ivory possession case against actor Mohanlal

The Wild Life (Protection) Act was enacted to subserve the broader interest of the country and not to protect the right of individuals, a local court has observed while dismissing the plea of the state government to withdraw prosecution proceedings against actor Mohanlal in the ivory possession case of 2011.

Perumbavoor Judicial First Class Magistrate, Anju Cletus, had on August 17 dismissed the plea of the state government saying “no party including the State can claim the benefit of the laches from their side”.

Four elephant tusks were seized from the actor’s house in a raid conducted by the Income Tax authorities in June 2011 and a case was registered against him.

The complainant had alleged that the actor had used his influence with the then forest minister to bury the case without any further investigation.

“Evidently, the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972 was enacted to subserve the broader interest of the country and not to protect right of individuals… it is the larger interest of the country that is affected by the commission of an offence under the Act and not the individual rights of any person,” the court said.

The court in its order observed that the request for withdrawal of the prosecution in this case was on the basis of an ownership certificate issued to the accused during the course of investigation.

However, the counsel for the actor claimed that the ownership certificate has been granted to him in retrospective effect, in accordance with law.

The court noted that the validity of that ownership certificate was challenged before the state high court and the withdrawal petition failed to mention the same.

“I am of the view that it would be in the interest of justice to consider whether the prosecution should continue or not in the light of the adjudication which is yet to be made by the Hon’ble High Court regarding the validity of the ownership certificate issued to the accused no.1 (Mohanlal). Considering these circumstances, I am not inclined to allow the withdrawal petition. Hence, the CMP is dismissed,” the order said.

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The court said the Wild Life Protection Act was enacted to provide for the conservation, protection and management of the wildlife and for matters connected with a view to ensuring the ecological and environmental security of the country.

It added that the circumstances do not inspire confidence to hold that there has been “proper application of mind and free exercise of the discretion” of the Assistant Public Prosecutor while filing the petition to withdraw from prosecution.

The prosecution had also contended before the court that as a certificate of ownership was issued by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) and Chief Wildlife Warden of the state in favour of the accused, no prosecution would lie against him.

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