Balram Kumawat v Union of India and ors.

Date of opinion

The appellants had imported mammoth fossil said to be of an extinct species in the year 1937.The stock of mammoth fossil held by the appellants is said to be periodically checked by the statutory authorities.
Mammoth is said to be pre-historic animal which disappeared due to climatic conditions prevailing in Alaska and Siberia. According to the appellants the distinction between mammoth and elephant ivory is that whereas mammoth belongs to an extinct species, the ivory of elephant is of an extant living animal. The appellants state that mammoth ivory is distinguishable by visual and non-destructive means vis-a-vis elephant ivory and even in Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) their distinguishing features have been pointed out.
The learned counsel of the appellants would contend that trade in mammoth fossil ivory is not banned either under the said Act or under the CITES and, thus, the impugned judgment of the High Courtcannot be sustained.
As mammoth is an extinct species and as what is being used for carving is its fossil which is called ivory, because it has white and hard dentine substance which is also available in other animals, namely, Whale, Walrus, Hippos and warthog; it was urged, they cannot be included in the term "ivory" within the meaning ofthe provisions, of the said Act.
The Court reasoned:
That the object of the Parliament, when adopting the Act, was not only to ban trade in imported elephant ivory but ivory of every description so that poaching of elephant can be effectively restricted. "Ivory", therefore, even as per dictionary meaning is not confined to elephant ivory.
In State of West Bengal v. Union of India , the learned Chief Justice stated the law thus: "The Court must ascertain the intention of the Legislature by directing its attention not merely to the clauses to be construed but to the entire statute.

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