The Kerala High Court on Monday stayed the trial proceedings in the case related to the alleged illegal possession of ivory filed against Malayalam actor Mohanlal for six months.
A single bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan granted an interim stay of proceedings before Judicial First Class Magistrate Court, Perumbavoor, for a period of six months.
The case was registered after four elephant tusks were seized from the actor’s house in a raid conducted by the Income Tax authorities in June 2012.
Mohanlal, however, has been claiming that the ivory tusks were obtained legally and in 2015, at the direction of the Union government, the Kerala government had issued a certificate of ownership to him. Following this, the State government had issued a no objection certificate for withdrawing the case against him in 2020.
However, in June 2022, the Magistrate court dismissed the state’s application to withdraw the case. The court observed that the withdrawal petition was filed in a hasty manner by the state government.
The court also noted that there was no gazette notification in this case and hence the alleged certificate of ownership of the tusks has no legal sanctity.
Challenging this order, Mohanlal approached the High Court. In February this year, the High Court dismissed the actor’s plea but it partially allowed the state’s plea for withdrawing from the case, and asked the Magistrate court for fresh consideration of the state’s plea.
Subsequently, the state approached the magistrate court with a fresh plea seeking consent to withdraw the case.
This plea by the state was, however, dismissed by the Magistrate court stating that the Wild Life Protection Act was implemented to preserve the broader national interests and not individual rights.
The court further directed the actor to appear before the trial court on 3 November.