Ms Ivory Traders and ors. v Union of India and ors.

Seat of court
New Delhi
Date of opinion

The petitioners are dealers and artisans in ivory who carry on the business and trade in ivory including the manufacture of articles derived from ivory lawfully imported into India prior to the ban. They imported part of the stock of mammoth ivory from Russia and part of it from Hong Kong for the purposes of the business.
It is further asserted that ivory derived from mammoth, extinct species of wild animal, and ivory derived from elephants cannot be treated at par or on the same footing as both are different from each other and can be distinguished.
Therefore, they plead that they are persons affected by the Amendment Act 44 of 1991. The Amendment Act has been enacted to carry out the mandate of the directive principles enshrined in Article 48A of the Constitution of India:
"Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life: The State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wild life of the country."
The Court reasoned, that the Amendment Act explicitly bans the use of ivory for commercial use: "No person can commence or carry on business as a dealer in ivory imported into India or articles made, there from, or as manufacturer of such articles." The Court puts special emphasis on the words "ivory imported into India", as being designed deliberately. The intention is to cover all descriptions of ivory, including from mammoth.
Court judgement:
Impugned legislation falls within the power and competence of the Parliament as the same is meant to protect the Indian elephant. To achieve that purpose, the Parliament has undoubted power to deal with matters which, effectuate the same. It can legislate with regard to all ancillary and subsidiary subjects including the imposition of ban on trade in imported ivory of all descriptions, whether drawn from mammoth or elephant, for the salutary purpose of the preservation of the Indian elephant.
Based on the above reasoning, the Court dismissed the appeal petition. (Provided by: UNODC SHERLOC)

Language of document
Reference number
AIR 1997 Delhi 267 b