The Bombay high court on Tuesday directed the chief conservator of forests (Kolhapur) to free Sunder, an elephant, from a temple's custody.
A division bench of Justice V M Kanade and Justice M S Sonak was hearing a petition by PETA, alleging cruelty to Sunder at Jyotiba temple and highlighting the conditions of elephants held captive at religious places. PETA's Neville Deboo said the body had received several complaints from devotees and animal welfare officers who were shocked to see the elephant's condition.
"His observations on cruelty to the animal are all offences under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,'' said Deboo, adding that PETA complained to police authorities but no action was taken.
The HC observed that "prima facie, pictures are showing he is not kept in good condition". It directed the chief conservator of forests (Kolhapur) to implement the 2012 order of the joint secretary (forests), revenue & forests department, and send Sunder to Wild Life Rescue Rehabilitation Center, Bangalore. A compliance report has to be submitted to the HC on December 23.