SC warns festival organisers against cruelty to animals

Source: The Hindu

Cracking down on abuse suffered by captive elephants, the Supreme Court on Wednesday threatened festival coordinators and organisers with contempt of court action if they are found treating animals brought to perform in festivals with cruelty.

A bench led by Justice Dipak Misra ordered organisations, private owners, festival co-ordination committees to ensure that animals engaged in performance of festival activity are not subjected to cruelty.

The court warned that if any such instance of cruelty was brought to its notice and established, these persons would face contempt proceedings before the Supreme Court.

The order follows a startling report submitted by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) detailing in the Supreme the physical and mental torture suffered by elephants in the recently-concluded Thrissur Pooram in Kerala.

The report, a result of extensive inspection carried out on the Pooram premises in Thrissur district of the State, revealed that both the State government and festival organisers violated almost every rule in the book.

The stark report opened a Pandora’s box on the legality of one of Kerala’s largest tourist attractions and oldest temple festivals by bringing it under the scrutiny of the Supreme court.

A visibly disturbed Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra had earlier ordered the Kerala government to respond on how laws were flouted to abuse these captive elephants during the festival held in the last week of April 2015.

It had highlighted how elephants paraded for Pooram “suffered from very poor body condition score, painful abscesses, infected wounds and bruises, partial vision loss mutilated tail and foot diseases.”

They also showed signs of severe mental suffering and psychological illness.

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