In a first of its kind judgment, the Madras High Court has permitted the mercy killing of an ailing elephant in Salem. The elephant belongs to the Arulmigu Sugavaneswarar Temple in Salem and suffers from arthritis.

A Madras High Court bench ruled to euthanise the elephant after a plea was filed by S Muralidharan, the founder of Indian Centre for Animal Rights and Education (INCARE).

The court, however, has asked vets to provide a certificate saying that the elephant cannot be cured and that it would be cruel to keep the animal alive.

Rajeshwari, the elephant at the Arulmigu Sugavaneswarar Temple in Salem, lost one of her legs about a decade ago and has been standing on three legs ever since. This, doctors said, has led to Rajeshwari developing arthritis.

The elephant's condition was aggravated due to a recent mishap when doctors who were trying to lift the elephant using an earth mover ended up dropping her.

S Muralidharan, in his petition, has said that Rajeshwari had suffered for long due to her painful disease that cannot be medically or surgically treated or cured.

Rajeswari was also affected by painful abscesses on her right hip and elbow, he also said.

The petition goes on to say that the elephant has been unable to stand on her own feet for over a month now and her prone position has led to Rajeswari developing of bed sores.

The elephant had been subjected to various "terrible" treatments till date, the petition also said, adding that keeping her alive would be a violation of the section 13 (3) of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

(With inputs from PTI)