Madurai: A Madras High Court bench here has closed a public interest litigation seeking a ban on keeping elephants in captivity in temples and houses after the state government submitted that the Supreme Court was seized of the matter.
Special Government Pleader M Govindan informed the court that a similar case was pending in the apex court, which in an interim order had permitted keeping elephants in temples subject to certain conditions.
Closing the PIL yesterday, Justices R Sudhakar and V M Velumani also recorded Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR and CE) Department's submission that rejuvenation camps were being conducted for temple elephants at a cost of Rs 2.75 lakh for each pachyderm.
The PIL was filed by M Saravanan, an environmental activist.
HR and CE Commissioner M Veera Shanmugha Moni in his counter listed various measures taken by the state government since 2003 for proper upkeep of temple elephants.
"Elephants are maintained in temples from time immemorial. They are part and parcel of Hindu culture and tradition. In so many temples, "Gaja Puja" is performed and elephants take part in daily rituals and other events," he submitted.
He said the government was conducting rejuvenation camps for the elephants. Elephants from Puducherry and Dargah in Nagoor too were part of the camps, he submitted.
Elephants were provided with special diet according to their age, height and weight during the camps, he said, noting pachyderms which could not attend the camps due to health reasons were also provided with a similar diet and medical facilities at the temples.
At present, there were 33 elephants in 32 temples besides eight other pachyderms in six mutts across the state, he said.