Mahout's elephant custody bid via habeas corpus failed

Mahout's elephant custody bid via habeas corpus failed

Laxmi was in news a few months back when she was allegedly taken away by the mahout before Delhi police rescued her and took to a forest shelter.

A mahout's bid to get custody of elephant named as 'Laxmi' from a care centre did not succeed as the Supreme Court on Thursday declined to consider a habeas corpus petition, asking if an elephant can claim to be a citizen of the country.

Saddam, the mahout of the 47-year-old pachyderm, approached court seeking its directions to release her from "illegal detention" at Elephant Rehabilitation Centre and bring her back to Delhi.

Laxmi was in news a few months back when she was allegedly taken away by the mahout before Delhi police rescued her and took to a forest shelter.

The police had "detained" the jumbo, along with its mahout Saddam, from Yamuna Pusta area in the national capital in September.

According to the petitioner, Laxmi would eat and drink fine only when he was around, since they had a long bonding of over 10 years since 2008.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice S A Bobde asked advocate Wills Mathews, appearing for the mahout, if he had a document to show legal right of possession.

The court said since the elephant was with the Elephant Rehabilitation Centre, Haryana, he would have to produce some documents to get back her custody.

At this, the counsel preferred to withdraw the petition with liberty to approach the High Court.

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