PETA, Maha government slug it out in HC on shifting `Sunder`

Last Updated: Monday, March 3, 2014 - 19:23

Mumbai: Maharashtra government and animal rights group PETA today continued their court battle over relocation of a male elephant which was allegedly tortured while in custody of a temple in Kolhapur.

People for Ethical Treatment to Animals (PETA) has sought direction of the Bombay High Court to transfer the elephant, `Sunder`, to Mathura in Uttar Pradesh for treatment.

However, the Government has opposed the move, saying Sunder can`t be shifted as he is at present in musth stage (a period of sexual urge and aggression in male elephants).

The NGO has alleged the pachyderm, donated to Jyotibha Temple in Kolhapur by a local MLA, was ill-treated by the authorities and mahout (elephant handler) there. The temple officials have denied the charge.
Sunder was later shifted to another place in Kolhapur.

PETA counsel Shiraz Rustom told a Division Bench of Justices V M Kanade and Anil Menon that the NGO was ready to move the elephant to Mathura and provide proper treatment.

The HC was hearing a petition filed by the NGO seeking implementation of an August 2012 order of the Forest Department to relocate the 14-year-old elephant to a sanctuary in Karnataka. The expenses were to be borne by PETA.

"It has been two years but nothing has been done. He has been mistreated and hence is charging at anyone who approaches him. PETA now wants to transfer him to a facility in Mathura in a modified truck," Rustom said.

The Government lawyer J S Saluja submitted to the HC a one-page report of a two-member panel comprising S Bhatt, a veterinarian from Kolhapur, and Ajay Desai, a wildlife expert.
Saluja cited the report to oppose Sunder`s transfer at this stage. "The elephant is still in musth. In the present condition, it would not be possible to shift him anywhere."

After the arguments, the Bench posted the matter for final hearing on March 11.

Bollywood personalities like Amitabh Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit, R Madhavan and Raveena Tandon have backed the cause for Sunder`s release.


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First Published: Monday, March 3, 2014 - 19:23

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