The Delhi High Court was informed that the elephant Bijli Prasad, whose custody was sought by a man claiming to be his owner, is being cared for in Mathura by NGO Wildlife SOS.
The NGO’s attorney further informed the high court that the elephant had been taken into custody in Rajasthan and is now a “case property” of criminal proceedings that have been brought before the appropriate court.
The attorney for the NGO said that a decision by the appropriate court had given the NGO temporary custody of Bijli.
The high court was hearing a plea in which the petitioner—who allegedly owns the elephant—asked the court to order the Delhi government to retrieve Bijli Prasad and deliver him to the management team of the Radha Krishan Temple in Jamnagar, Gujarat, for his care and safety.
Justice Yashwant Varma took note of the NGO’s attorney’s arguments and declared there is no basis for considering granting the writs as requested.
The high court stated that the instant writ petition shall stand dismissed with liberty reserved to the petitioner to approach the concerned court for further directions as may be warranted.
The Delhi government was represented by advocate Arun Panwar in the matter.
Gayur Ali, a Ghaziabad resident who filed the petition, claimed to be the elephant’s legitimate owner and asserted that Bijli had been illegally kept by Wildlife SOS Elephant Conservation and Care Centre, located on the Agra-Mathura Road, since October 2020.
The petitioner had allegedly given the elephant to someone else in 2007 or 2008, but had retained ownership and received monthly updates on the animal’s well-being, according to the plea.
The petitioner learned, however, in April of this year that the elephant had been illegally kept at the NGO’s centre since 2020.
According to the complaint, the petitioner was notified by the NGO that the elephant was in poor condition and required care as well as a suitable facility to meet his demands.
He later learned that the elephant was taken into custody after the Forest Department was notified that he was out of control, and a FIR was filed against a man named Bhola who was in “illegal” possession of the animal at the time of the animal’s arrest.
The petitioner asserted that the NGO was refusing to recognise his ownership of the elephant and was preventing the transfer of the animal to Jamnagar.
(With inputs from PTI)