The Kerala High Court holds that the person with a better title and sufficient symbolic production may be granted interim custody of an elephant

Title: Jayakrishna Menon v State of Kerala

Decided on: 20 November, 2023

+ CRL.MC NO. 7600 OF 2023

CORAM: HON’BLE Justice P.V.Kunhikrishna


According to a recent ruling by the Kerala High Court, the person with a better title may receive temporary custody of property that is submitted before the Trial Court during an inquiry or trial conducted under Section 451 CrPC.

Facts of the Case

The petitioner contended that the third respondent was given custody of the Madom’s elephant, Raman, when it began exhibiting signs of musth. He stated that he learned that the third respondent’s staff and mahouts were harassing the elephant through social media and other sources. The petitioner then filed a First Information Report (FIR), claiming that offenses under Sections 406 (criminal breach of trust punishment) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing handover of property) of the IPC had been committed, and that Section 451 CrPC applied for interim custody of the elephant. The third respondent presented documents to support his claim that the Amrithanandamayi Madom gave him the elephant as a gift.

Courts analysis and decision

The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, Section 39(3), which forbade the transfer, sale, or gift of wild animals without the express consent of the Chief Wildlife Warden or another designated authority, was also cited by the court. It took into consideration Section 43(1) of the Act, which forbade the transfer of wild animals by means of an offer for sale or by any other form of payment involving commerce. It concluded, therefore, that the laws’ purpose was to forbid the sale of elephants for profit.  As a result, the Court said that it was evident from the records that the petitioner was the rightful owner of the elephant, with the third respondent’s ownership being contested. As a result, it overturned the magistrate’s decision and ordered a reexamination of the petitioner’s case.

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Written by- Hargunn Kaur Makhija

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