NAGPUR: The Delhi high court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by representatives of International Organisation for Animal Protection (OIPA) seeking direction to ban use of national heritage animal 'elephant' as party symbol by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Naresh Kadyan, the petitioner and India representative of OIPA, affiliated to the United Nations, duly recognized by the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), wanted the court to issue directions to chief election commissioner (CEC) to freeze or replace the symbol of the BSP from elephant to other.
The petitioner also wanted respondent - ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) - to make guidelines and rules for the national heritage animal to protect them from any kind of abuse, unnecessary pain and suffering.
"The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) although imposed a ban on display of elephants, it failed to rescue them. The BSP was abusing national heritage animal elephant during elections by using it live in the party rallies and hence it should be withdrawn as party symbol," said Kadyan.
But, dismissing the writ petition for a ban on elephant as BSP's election symbol, the Delhi high court said, "Elephant does not come under the National Emblems Act (NEA) and hence the writ petition is dismissed." The NEA prevents improper use of certain emblems of government, said Rajender Yadav, counsel for the petitioner.
Kadyan said that under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972, elephants are protected under Schedule I, and hence use of any protected wild animals and their trophies is an offence.
He alleged that BSP candidates use live elephants for parade and campaign and also in victory rallies. Recently, a BSP MP had booked elephants for pride during marriage celebration in Meerut. Due to abuse, the animals went out of control and damaged public property. Same elephants were later rescued and rehabilitated by the authorities.
Similarly, Kadyan said, in 2008, a BSP candidate booked two elephants for campaigning. Besides, elephant is being displayed symbolically on statues in parks along with statues of late Kanshiram and Mayawati. This is being done to gain popularity. "We will appeal in the Supreme Court against the high court order," Kadyan stated.