PANAJI: The Bombay High Court at Goa has directed the Goa Forest authorities to inspect the 10 captive elephants in the farms in Ponda taluka at the earliest and to further associate Asian Elephant Research and Conservation Centre (ANCF) and its senior scientist Surendra Varma and his team in such inspection.

The petitioner – Peoples for Animals, Goa had urged the court to direct the Principal Chief Conservator Forests to stop commercial use of the elephants and to seized these animals by the Forest Department; to depute animal veterinarian along with a forest warden to do monthly reports on the upkeep and well being of the elephants and to conduct inspection of all 10 captive elephants in Goa along with the petitioner after every four months.

The 10 elephants are presently in the custody of M/s Jungle Book Resort , Collem; M/s Sahakari Spice Farm, Curti-Ponda and M/s Tropical Spice Plantation, Keri-Ponda, who were made respondents in the petition.

During the hearing of public interest litigation (PIL), Advocate General Devidas Pangam said that the Goa Forest officials had no objection to holding of inspection nor the association of ANCF in such inspection while, the counsel for respondents also stated that they had no objection to inspection.

The petitioner alleged that even though the Goa Forest authorities had issued necessary orders for seizure of such elephants, but the custody of such elephants continues with the three respondents.

To this, AG Pangam submitted that though elephants were seized by the Goa Forest authorities, the three respondents have been permitted to retain the custody of the elephants so that they are fed and maintained properly. He however pointed out that the respondents had no right to use these elephants for commercial purposes and that the State Forest authorities found these elephants were not being used for any commercial purposes.

The counsel for the respondents also told the court that the elephants were not being used for any commercial purposes and there was no proposal to use these elephants for any commercial purposes like rides etc.

Disposing of the public interest litigation (PIL) writ petition, the division bench comprising Justice Mahesh Sonak and Justice M S Jawalkar on Monday also asked the Goa Forest authorities and the Asian Elephant Research and Conservation Centre (ANCF) to work out the modalities to hold the inspection.