Court Of Appeal Willing To Make Greater Consideration On Behalf Of Elephants 

Shakila Ifham

November 28, 2022


Court of Appeal two-judge-bench comprising Justices Sobhitha Rajakaruna and Dhammika Ganepola observed that the Court is mindful when it is dealing with a sensitive matter pertaining to cruelty to elephants since they are not able to express themselves like human beings and to raise objections.

The Court of Appeal on Friday made this order and remarks when the four writ petitions filed challenging the legality of an extraordinary gazette notification issued to regularise the registration of tamed elephants were taken up for argument.

Writ petitions had been filed by Centre for Eco-Cultural Studies, Justice for Animals Sri Lanka and Centre for Environmental Justice.

The Court of Appeal was informed that as requested by the Attorney General, the Chief Magistrate’s Court had issued an order releasing all the remaining elephants back to the individuals that were suspected of keeping them illegally.

President’s Counsel Sanjeeva Jayawardena with Counsel Prashanthi Mahindaratne, Dilumi De Alwis and Lakmini Warusevitane appearing for the petitioners informed court that the impugned regulations will effectively remove the strong legal protection extended to Elephants by the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance.

Sanjeewa Jayawardena PC said the Impugned regulations cunningly seek to regularize the illegal possession of elephants, by those who have forcibly taken elephants from the wild or who have bought such poached elephants and also those who have forcibly held elephants without licensing them or registering them.

He submitted that the elephants who are in the custody of such miscreants, had been seized by the Police and the miscreants had been arraigned before the relevant Magistrate’s Court, some elephants had been released to the illegal holders, using these wrongful regulations, apparently in order to regularize these illegal holdings.

The Court of Appeal had earlier issued an interim order restraining the Director General of Wildlife Conservation Department from registering all elephants in terms of the new regulations challenged in Courts.

The Court of Appeal had further directed the Pinnawela Elephant Orphanage, Udawalawe Elephant Transit Home and the Ridigama Safari Park, not to relinquish custody of these elephants.

The President’s Counsel said that contrary to the interim order issued by the Court of Appeal, three more elephants had been released to those whose names appeared in the B reports filed by the Police in the Magistrate’s Court. Upon verification of this by the Court from the Registrar of the Court of Appeal through the Registrar of the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Court of Appeal issued a further interim order, directing the Registrar of the Chief Magistrate’s Court as well as the Director General of Wildlife, and also the custodians of the Pinnawala Orphanage, the Udawalawe Transit Home and the Ridigama national park, not to implement the Order that had been made in the Magistrate Court to release these three elephants, until the 5th of December.

President’s Counsel Romesh de Silva and Senior Counsel Ravindranath Dabare appeared for other petitioners Who are they?.