Actor Mohanlal stated in the Kerala High Court Monday that the chargesheet against him for illegal possession of ivory is filled with ulterior motives to harass him and further proceedings in this regard would cause untold hardships and irreparable injury to him.
The actor’s position on the case came in a counter-affidavit filed in the High Court in response to the writ petition filed by AA Paulose, a resident of Ernakulam which sought to quash the order of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests granting ownership certificate for the tusks belonging to Mohanlal.
In 2011, two pairs of elephant tusks were seized by Income Tax officials from Mohanlal’s residence in Thevara, Kochi. It is alleged that the actor did not have the necessary possession certificates as per section 42 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The elephant falls under Schedule 1 of the WP Act and is accorded maximum legal protection.
The actor claimed at the time that he had bought the tusks from a private individual for Rs 65000 in the year 2010. After the seizure of the ivory, a case was filed by the state forest department, but was later withdrawn. The principal chief conservator of forests later granted an ownership certificate to the actor for the tusks.
The latest chargesheet filed by the Range Forest Officer, Kodanad, in September this year charges the actor for illegally possessing the ivory and failing to inform the Chief Wildlife Warden (CWW) about the possession and transfer of the tusks.
In his counter-affidavit in the High Court, the veteran actor of more than 300 Malayalam films stated that he had received the ownership certificate in January 2016 from the CWW and that his possession of the ivory tusks was legalised from the very inception.
“Once ownership certificate is granted, it must necessarily have retrospective effect to the date of original possession, implicit in Section 40(4) and Section 40A(1) of the Act, whereby the state government and central government respectively have been authorised to require any person to declare any wildlife article in control, custody of possession in such form and within the time as may be prescribed and upon which such persons are granted an immunity from prosecution under the Wildlife Protection Act,” the counter-affidavit read.
The actor alleged that certain persons and organisations had filed false cases against him, misusing the public trust doctrine and to tarnish his name in the general public.