HC agrees to mercy killing of ele­phant

Or­ders med­i­cal ex­am­i­na­tion to con­clude if it would be cruel to keep it alive

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - Mo­hamed Im­ran­ul­lah S.

The Madras High Court on Mon­day or­dered that a tem­ple ele­phant in Salem city named Ra­jeswari should be eu­thanised if a lo­cal gov­ern­ment vet­eri­nar­ian cer­ti­fies that it would be cruel to keep the ail­ing an­i­mal alive any longer.

It was made clear that the vet­eri­nar­ian should in­spect the 42-year-old ele­phant at the Sugu­vaneswarar tem­ple and is­sue a cer­tifi­cate within 48 hours.

‘Ab­surd meth­ods’

Chief Jus­tice Indira Ban­er­jee and Jus­tice Ab­dul Qud­dhose passed the or­der on a pub­lic in­ter­est lit­i­ga­tion pe­ti­tion filed by an­i­mal lover S. Mu­ralid­ha­ran, who ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials of adopt­ing ab­surd meth­ods such as at­tempt­ing to make the ele­phant stand with the help of a crane and, in the process, caus­ing more pain and agony to it.

Cri­te­ria for eu­thana­sia

The judges ruled against re­quir­ing clear­ance from the An­i­mal Welfare Board of In­dia (AWBI), as sug­gested by the Hindu Re­li­gious and Char­i­ta­ble En­dow­ments Depart­ment coun­sel S. P. Ma­hara­jan. The AWBI had pre­scribed the cri­te­ria for mercy killing of an­i­mals. The judges rea­soned that the Preven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals Act of 1960 au­tho­rises gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials con­cerned to eu­thanise mor­tally in­jured, cap­tive an­i­mals.

They, how­ever, made it clear that the an­i­mal should be killed in a hu­mane way with min­i­mal pain and dis­tress.

The Divi­sion Bench took note of a let­ter writ­ten by N.S. Manoha­ran, For­est Vet­eri­nary Of­fi­cer, on March 21 in which he ob­served that the ele­phant, Ra­jeswari, suf­fered from “chronic de­for­mity of fore­limbs, frac­ture of left el­bow joint, sore wounds on right lat­eral side, mag­got wounds, age fac­tor and re­lated is­sues.”

The of­fi­cer had noted that the ele­phant’s con­di­tion was “guarded to grave,” which was ex­plained to the judges as mean­ing that Ra­jeswari was in be­tween two med­i­cal con­di­tions — re­cov­ery not pre­dictable and im­mi­nent death.

Painful de­ci­sion: The an­i­mal should be killed in a hu­mane way with min­i­mal pain, the court said.

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