The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to hand over the custody of elephant Laxmi to her former Mahaut, dismissing his plea for habeas corpus as withdrawn.
The bench headed by Chief Justice S. A. Bobde noted that the Mahaut's claim was presently not backed by any legal documents to prove his ownership or possessory rights over the elephant for the animal to be conveyed to the petitioner.
However, the court granted permission to withdraw this petition with liberty to approach the High Court for appropriate relief.
The mahout, who claims to have long term emotional bonding with an elephant, had moved the Supreme Court in December last year with a 'habeas corpus' plea seeking release of the animal, which the forest officials had taken away from his care to be kept in a rehabilitation centre.
The matter concerns the Delhi elephant 'Lakshmi', which had created news in September when forest officials had seized it from Yamuna bank plains to be sent to a camp in Haryana.
Challenging this action, the jumbo's mahout Saddam has filed a habeas plea in the Supreme Court.
As per the petition, he and the elephant has a bonding of over ten years since 2008.
"Their friendship mushroomed to such an extent that 'Lakshmi' after some time totally refused to accept food, if not medicines from anybody other than the petitioner.
Lakshmi could sense the presence of the petitioner even from a distance of 2 to 3 km by smell, and the petitioner communicated with her like a family member, and nobody else knew Lakshmi better than the petitioner. The family members of the petitioner also loved Lakshmi, and they were living almost like a joint family", Saddam stated in the petition.