first_imgThe Gauhati High Court on Monday asked Assam’s Chief Wildlife Warden Ranjana Gupta whether she had taken note of a 2016 Supreme Court order against transfer of elephants while clearing the transit of four juvenile elephants to Gujarat for a religious event.Hearing separate petitions filed by Kerala-born Canadian Sangita Iyer and Guwahati-based NGO Avinava Prayash, a division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Arup Kumar Goswami and Justice Manish Choudhury sought clarification from the Centre with regard to the operation of the apex court’s interim order in 2016 prohibiting transfer of elephants outside a State by their possessors.The Bench also asked Ms. Gupta to clarify whether she had taken note of the Supreme Court’s interim order when she authorised on June 12 the transit of the elephants to Ahmedabad’s Jagannath Temple for a Rath Yatra on July 4.The oldest of the four elephants — females Joytara and Rani, and males Babulal and Rupsing — is nine years old. ‘Will not survive trip’Wildlife activists had argued that these juvenile elephants would not survive the heatwave while travelling in a metal railway wagon 3,106 km from eastern Assam’s Tinsukia to Ahmedabad.Noting that the railways too had sought clarification on the Supreme Court’s interim order before transporting the elephants, the Bench referred to the March 8 letter of the Project Elephant Division of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change seeking legal steps for the “welfare of the captive elephants, etc., and strict monitoring” to prevent illegal transport of elephants between States.The petitioners’ counsel Bhaskar Dev Konwar, argued that the elephants would face adverse climatic conditions during their train journey to Gujarat.He also pointed out that unlike Tamil Nadu and Kerala, Assam has not framed rules for management and maintenance of captive elephants under Section 64(2) of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. He also contended that none of the elephants sent outside Assam on temporary leases have returned till date. The case is scheduled to come up for hearing again on Tuesday.last_img

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