The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has issued a show cause notice to the makers of the upcoming Tamil movie "Varisu" for using five elephants without obtaining the mandatory permissions. Acting on a private complaint, the AWBI issued the notice to Hyderabad-based Venkateswara Creations for using elephants without the pre-shoot permission from the Board. Starring Vijay and Rashmika Mandanna, "Varisu" is being produced by Dil Raju under the banner of Venkateswara Creations.
AWBI Secretary S. K Dutta stated in the notice dated November 23 that the filmmaker has violated Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001. Under the rules, every person has to register with the Board if the animals are being exhibited or trained.
According to the notice, the Board had not received the pre-shoot application from Venkateswara Creations.
Exhibiting the animals without the permission of the Board is an offense under Section 26 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The Board has directed Venkateswara Creations to submit a full and comprehensive explanation of the violations within seven days, failing which the Board would take any action as it may deem to consider proper and necessary for the welfare of the animals.
Elephants are protected under Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and obtaining prior permission for using performing animals in films is mandatory as per Rule 7(2) of the Performing Animals (Registration) Rules, 2001.
There is a prescribed format to be followed specifying the kind of animal, age of the animal, physical health of the animal, the nature of performance to be done by the animal, the duration for which the animal shall be used for such performance --- this must be provided along with a fitness certificate issued by a veterinary doctor certifying the health and fitness of the animal along with an ownership certificate in case of animals covered under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
However, the production house reportedly did not consult the Board, except for obtaining a transit permit from the Chief Wildlife Warden's office.