The Madras High Court on Monday granted permission to euthanise an ailing elephant at a temple in Salem, Tamil Nadu, if a veterinarian certifies that it cannot be cured. The bench stressed that only humane methods that would cause the animal minimal pain and distress should be used for the mercy killing.

The division bench took into consideration a letter, dated March 21, by Forest Veterinary Officer NS Manoharan, in which he said that the condition of the elephant named Rajeswari was “guarded to grave” as it suffered from “chronic deformity of forelimbs, fracture of left elbow joint, sore wounds on right lateral side, maggot wounds, age factor and related issues”, The Hindu reported.

The High Court said a local government should examine 42-year-old Rajeswari at Salem’s Arulmigu Sugavaneswarar Temple and submit a report “preferably within 48 hours” if they find that “it would be cruel to keep her alive”, The Times of India reported.

The order from Madras High Court Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice Abdul Quddhose came after hearing a public interest litigation filed by animal activist S Muralidharan. In the plea, he has accused government officials of using “absurd methods”, such as trying to make the elephant stand with the help of a crane, to check its condition.

“The elephant is in agony and on humanitarian grounds, it should be euthanised,” the advocate for the petitioner argued in court.