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Kerala elephant tragedy: SC seeks reply of Centre, 13 states on plea against barbaric practices

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday sought response from Centre, Kerala and 13 other states on a plea challenging the barbaric practices to ward off wild animals terming them as illegal and unconstitutional and violating Article 14 and 21 of the Constitution.

The plea filed by an advocate has also sought issuance of guidelines for creation of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to tackle such incidents and filling up of vacancies in forest forces across the country.

A bench of Chief Justice S ABobde and Justices R Subhash Reddy and A S Bopanna issued notice to Centre and 13 states including Kerala and sought their responses.

The petition sought declaration of the practice of using barbaric means/snares/shaved sticks/explosives to ward off wild animals as illegal, unconstitutional, and violative of Articles 14, and 21 of the Constitution.

Petitioner SubhamAwasthi in his plea has referred to an incident of Kerala, where a pregnant elephant recently died after eating a pineapple stuffed with firecrackers, offered to her allegedly by some locals.

Besides, Kerala other States which are made party in the petition include Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttarakhand and West Bengal.

Awasthi said that the incident which happened in Kerala and hundreds of incidents like it are waiting to unfold in various parts of country due to the dubious practice of using snares to scare wild animals.

It is quite pertinent to mention here that such practices happen due to lack of scientific involvement and awareness about Animal Human Conflicts and lack of information about other ways of dealing with it. Furthermore, there is an acute shortage of staff in Forest Forces to effectively manage this, the plea filed through advocate Vivek Narayan Mishra said.

He referred to various scriptures in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism religions, which prohibited cruelty against animals and said, the cruelty with which elephants are treated nowadays is a far cry from what it was like in ancient India where they had pride of place. No army could be imagined without elephants leading the charge .

On May 27, a pregnant elephant succumbed to injuries caused by the eating of a Pineapple filled with crackers which was left by the villagers/farmers/local men to ward off wild animals straying into the area which had their fields/property. It was again reported that this was not an isolated incident as another Elephant had died due to similar circumstances in Kerala, the plea said.

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