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Legal Initiatives


Cupa High Court Cases

To stop the transfer of captive elephants to private parties 

A petition was filed against the State of Karnataka requesting the courts not to allow the transfer of  elephants and calves from Government forest camps to private parties.

In the course of the proceedings a Government Order was passed refraining the transfer of elephants of the Forest Department to any private individual.


Inspite of the above order, a 6 year old elephant named Kapila from Nagarahole, was slated for transfer to a temple in Pondicherry  on the request of the then Karnataka Chief Minister S M Krishna as a gift.

A temporary stay order was taken from the court by WRRC (A sister NGO of CUPA). Examination of the temple and a report given to Forest Department and State facilitated the cancellation of the Order. 


Since 2003, the law regarding transfer of wild animals has become conditional to availability of appropriate "housing, upkeep and maintenance".

Cases involving seizure of temple elephants on the ground of cruelty

In the year 2004, three elephants were found to be housed in very poor environment in Bangalore, namely:

Ayyappa temple (Jalahalli)

Gayathri temple (Yeshwanthpur)

Durgaparmeshwari temple (Vidyaranyapura) 

Jalahalli Temple


The temple elephant, treated very cruelly in the temple premises, was seized in April 2004. The owner filed a petition in the High Court asking for the cancellation of seizure order and restoration of the elephant.


CUPA filed a petition, (WP7276/2005) requesting the quashing of the ownership certificate and a Stay Order. The reasons stated by CUPA were that there were no facilities to look after the elephant in the temple and the said animal had also been subjected to cruelty.


The judgement was passed in 2007 agreed with the cause and directed the Chief Wildlife Warden to review the certificate and check the facilities in the temple and also to keep in mind the interest of the animal and not the owners. The review lead to cancellation of the ownership certificate.


At this the temple authorities wrote a letter to the Chief Wildlife Warden stating the existence of an agreement between them and the original owner/donor of the elephant, one Mr. Jacob Abraham, that the elephant was to be returned to the original owner in case the temple authorities could not look after the animal. The Chief Wildlife Warden approved this without verifying the viability of such original owner and without hearing CUPA. On acquiring the knowledge of this approval CUPA protested and brought a stop to it.


The temple authorities then filed a case in the court (WP1066/2008) pleading to cancel suspension order and give the custody of the elephant to Mr. Abraham. The arguments put forth by CUPA to refute this plea are:

·        It is against the law as there was a government order that no elephants belonging to the forest department are to be given to any private individual

·        The ownership certificate had been revoked

·        This was an agreement between two private parties and not binding on the State

·        Public safety would be under threat if the elephant was returned as there were instances where the elephant had escaped and people on the street had gone helter-skelter due to fear resulting in the death of a doctor who in an attempt to save himself from the elephant, stepped in front of a bus.

·        The elephant was now a property of the government as per the law

·        This order would be against the court order of keeping in view the interest of the animal

The court then directed the Chief Wildlife Warden to hear both parties and decide in accordance with the law. But the Chief Wildlife Warden decided to return the elephant back to Mr. Abraham stating the reason for doing this was the existence of the agreement between the parties.

This lead to the filing another case in the court by CUPA and also winning it. The elephant was finally decided to be with the forest department.

The animal is now in Sakrebale, Shimoga Forest Camp.


Yeshwantpur Temple

This elephant was housed at the Yeshwantpur temple with a deer and a black buck , the latter two being against the WLPA ( Wildlife Protection Act). Elephant Maneka was seized by the State Forest Department, on the basis of a technical report presented to the authorities by CUPA, regarding her management and condition.  Menaka, the elephant seized from Yeshwantpur temple, is now housed in Bannergatta and WRRC is supporting her maintainance.

Elephant gifted as diplomacy tools by Heads of States

Veda, a six year old baby elephant was to be gifted to the Armenian president by the then Prime Minister in the year 2005. This was done without taking into consideration the habitat of the animal, its survival in a different habitat, the conditions of the zoo in which the animal was to be housed.


The authorities did not oblige to stop this when they were approached by CUPA who then filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the High Court of Karnataka.  The Court maintained that though the transfer had violated certain conditions, the designation of the person doing the transfer was taken into consideration. The petition was dismissed and a review petition filed later was also dismissed.


At this time, a UK based organisation, Born Free, joined   CUPA to campaign against this transfer. Born Free went ahead and conducted an investigation of the zoo in Armenia. They reported that the condition of the zoo was bad and not viable for the survival of the elephant. Silent protests were held in UK.


Petitions were sent to the Prime minister, President, Sonia Gandhi, etc. Media joined in to support the cause. The media coverage and public awareness lead to the PM to cancel the order and further a Central directive was passed stating that no animals would be given as gifts to or by heads of  State.

Circus cases

14th October 1998 Central Government passed an order that stated five animals that were to be banned from being used as performing animals. These animals mentioned were

·        Lions

·        Tigers

·        Panthers

·        Monkeys

·        Bears

Once the notification was issued, circus owners, unions, etc. filed cases in Bangalore, Kerala and Madras High Courts pleading the quashing of the notification. All the courts dismissed the petition. They then went to the Supreme Court arguing that the notification would render a lot of circus employees unemployed. CUPA became a party to this petition. Supreme Court took into consideration all the facts of the petition and dismissed the petition. In addition to this, the Supreme Court ordered the building of rescue centres in Bangalore and Thirupati.

Stray Dog Cases

From the British era till the year 1999, dogs were caught and killed inhumanely routinely. Even with this kind of mass culling of the dogs to reduce their numbers and the number of rabies human deaths, the result was not achieved. In the Street Dogs Eradication Programme by the method of “Remove and Kill”, street dogs removed from a particular area created a vacuum in the area which in no time was filled by the entry of new dogs which had escaped capture. As the new dogs were not sterilised and vaccinated, they multiplied leading in the increase in the dog population and hence the rabies death instances in humans.


Based on scientific recommendations made by the World Health Organisation in its Report “Guidelines for Dog Population Management” to control the dog population and rabies through sterilisation and vaccination of dogs against rabies, the Animal Birth Control Program and Anti-Rabies Vaccination Programme were implemented in Bangalore. This resulted in the decrease in the number of human deaths by rabies.


In 1999, Subhashini Reddy went to High Court pleading against street dogs, to put all these dogs in shelters but did not give any solutions to the disposal of these dogs.


In 2000, an Anti-Dog organisation called Stray Dog Free Bangalore also filed a case against street dogs pleading that the dogs had to be eliminated as done before.


In 2001, the Animal Birth Control Rules was passed which was to override all laws contrary to the clauses in the Rules. This dismissed both the cases.


Then the organisation went to the Lokayukta asking them to submit a report in accordance with their plea. The Lokayukta gave a report to the government suggesting that the ABC Rules are ultra virus and dogs should be killed.


CUPA challenged the report and filed two cases:

·        Lokayukta has no authority to saying ABC Rules is ultra virus and hence the report was to be quashed

·        Defamatory remarks were made by the Lokayukta against the NGO

The court upheld the ABC Rules stating that Lokayuktas’ report was to be taken to consideration only if it is in accordance with the Rules and should smudge the defamatory remarks made.

In 2007, Lokayukta filed an appeal and one Krishna Bhat (WP427/2007) also filed a petition pleading that rule 9 was to be changed partly as to sterilise the dogs but not to release them back to the localities again.Karnataka Legal Service Authority and CUPA have presently filed the objections.