A minister, as a ‘top executive’, is above the law. This is the new theory (though very old in practice) proposed by Kerala’s Forest Minister KB Ganesh Kumar. He virtually said this to the media when quizzed about his boat ride in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, where boat journeys are prohibited after 6 pm. On 8 October, Ganesh Kumar and Tourism Minister AP Anilkumar took a tourist boat and steered it through Thekkady Lake to a heritage resort in the forest, well past sundown. The minister was issued a ‘show cause’ notice by the Director of Ports for violating the Kerala Inland Vessels rules that prohibit night rides in the tiger reserve because it disturbs wild animals. Trying to explain the event in his report to the Director of Ports, the Deputy Director of Periyar Tiger Reserve Sanjay Kumar said that the ministers were actually on a ‘forest conservation’ mission. On official work. He even cited a law that lets officers on such missions undertake boat journeys at night. Media reports also alleged that the tourism minister, who has no training in rowing boats, was steering the boat on the way back and hit a tree stump. No law was cited in defence of this episode. Both ministers simply denied the incident.
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