A petition seeking to direct actor Mohanlal to surrender the ivory that was seized from his Kochi residence to a court has been moved before a trial court.
A.A. Poulose, the third-party intervenor in the petition opposing the withdrawal of prosecution against the actor, had moved the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court 3, Perumbavoor, a few months ago seeking a directive to the actor to surrender the two sets of ivory before the court. The Forest department had left the ivory, fixed in a table, in the custody of the actor after registering a case.
The petitioner argued that the forest official acted beyond his powers with an extraneous consideration towards the actor, who was the accused under Wildlife Protection Act, and allowed him to keep the seized articles in his house.
However, the Kodanad Forest Range Officer pointed out before the court that the two sets of ivory fixed on a table, the material object in the case, was entrusted with the actor as it was “practically difficult” to remove them from his residence. A receipt was collected from the manager of Mr. Mohanlal regarding the ivory left at his residence. The decision was taken according to the provisions of law, he contended. The official also said the court had earlier rejected a similar petition from an organisation.
Opposing the Forest department’s arguments, the petitioner pointed out that the earlier decision rejecting the plea to take the ivory into custody was irrelevant as the circumstances in the case had changed.
Seized in 2011
A final report on the offence was filed before the trial court. The court later issued summons to all involved in the case. Allowing the accused to keep the material object in his custody in a case in which trial was about to commence was something unheard of in judicial history, he argued.
It was following an income tax raid at the Kochi residence of the actor in 2011 that the alleged illegal possession of the ivory surfaced. Recently, the Kerala High Court had asked the trial court to consider the petition of the State to withdraw prosecution proceedings against the actor afresh.