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Independent probe likely into alleged ill-treatment of Pondy temple elephant

The Madras High Court on Monday made its intentions clear in appointing an independent agency of experts to assess the health of Lakshmi, the elephant owned by Manakula Vinayagar temple in Puducherry, following conflicting claims made by the animal welfare activists and the Puducherry government.

Independent probe likely into alleged ill-treatment of Pondy temple elephant
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Elephant Lakshmi; Madras High Court
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Chennai

When the plea moved by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) came up for hearing, the Forest Department submitted that none of the norms relating to elephant ownership was adhered to. A division bench comprising Justice M Sathyanarayanan and Justice R Hemalatha then held that the matter required an independent entity of experts to study the condition of elephant to enable the court pass appropriate orders.

During the hearing, it was submitted that there was another complaint of alleged ill-treatment of the 30-year-old female elephant and that the temple management failed to comply with the ownership norms. The elephant was shifted to a land belonging to Kalathiswarar Varadaraja Perumal Temple Trust, from where it was being made to either walk or travel at least 8 to 10 km every day and stationed at Mankalua Vinayagar temple for over 7 hours a day despite its ill health.

It was also submitted that the temple authorities were yet to submit the registers relating to the feeding and health of Lakshmi.

However, appearing for the temple, senior counsel ARL Sundaresan said the registers and report would be submitted soon and the bench could take a view on whether or not to order an independent inquiry after perusing the report. The plea has been posted for further hearing to November 6, when the court is expected to order the independent probe.

Besides seeking to safeguard it from alleged Ill-treatment, Peta had sought to rehabilitate the elephant by sending it to a sanctuary where it could live unchained and socialise with other elephants, and also receive veterinary care.

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