New Delhi: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre and others including Animal Welfare Board to ensure that no elephant is "treated or meted with cruelty" during their use in religious festivals across the country.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant issued a direction to the Centre, Animal Welfare Board of India and states and sought their replies within four weeks on an application filed in a pending PIL.
"As an ad-interim measure, we direct organizers of various co-ordination committees of festivals and the owners of elephants to ensure that no elephant is treated with/meted out cruelty," the bench said.
The direction was passed by the court in the PIL, filed by six organisations and individuals including Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, which had alleged that the number of elephants kept captive by private persons and religious institutions is over 3,000 and they are being treated with cruelty.
Meanwhile, Thiruvambadi Devaswom of Thrissur in Kerala moved the court seeking its impleadment as a party in the pending PIL on the issue.
Earlier, the court had issued notices to the Centre, the Animal Welfare Board of India and nine states on the PIL seeking steps for protection and welfare of elephants held in captivity including a ban on their sale, gifting and use in religious festivals.