New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the law enacted by the Tamil Nadu government allowing the hugely popular bull-taming sport ‘Jallikattu’ and bullock cart races.
The order was passed by a five-judge Constitution bench of Justices KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar. Supreme Court, while dismissing all the pleas challenging the validity of the state’s law allowing bull-taming sport Jallikattu and bullock cart races, said the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, substantially minimises pain and suffering to animals.
The Tamil Nadu government had defended the event of ‘Jallikattu’ and told the apex court that sporting events can also be cultural events and there is no cruelty on the bulls in ‘Jallikattu’. “This is an incorrect notion that an activity, which is in nature of a sport or entertainment or amusement, cannot have a cultural value,” the state had said. Countries like Peru, Columbia and Spain consider bullfighting a part of their cultural heritage, the Tamil Nadu government had argued, adding that bulls involved in ‘Jallikattu’ are maintained by farmers around the year.
The apex court had earlier asked the Tamil Nadu government whether an animal can be used in bull-taming sports like ‘Jallikattu’ for the entertainment of humans and how is the sport necessary for preserving the native breed of bulls. Tamil Nadu government in its affidavit had stated that Jallikattu is “not merely an act of entertainment or amusement but an event with great historic, cultural and religious value.”
Jallikattu – A Popular Bull-Taming Sport In TN
Jallikattu is conducted during the Pongal festival as thanksgiving for a good harvest and subsequent festivals are conducted in temples which shows that the event has great cultural and spiritual significance. In February 2018, the Supreme Court referred to the Constitution bench whether the people of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra can conserve Jallikattu and bullock-cart races as their cultural right and demand their protection under Article 29 (1) of the Constitution.
The top court had earlier said that the petitions challenging the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, needed to be decided by a larger bench since they involved substantial questions relating to the interpretation of the Constitution.
It had said that a larger bench would decide whether states have the “legislative competence” to make such laws on grounds, including that Jallikattu and bullock cart racing fell under the cultural rights enshrined under Article 29(1) and can be protected constitutionally.
Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra had amended the central law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and allowed Jallikattu and bullock cart racing, respectively. Several petitions were filed in the top court challenging the state laws.
PETA Challenges Law Allowing Jallikattu
A batch of petitions, led by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), sought direction to quash the ‘Jallikattu’ law passed by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, which brought bulls back into the fold of “performing animals”. PETA challenged the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Bill 2017 passed by the state assembly on several grounds, including that it circumvented the apex court verdict holding the bull-taming sport as “illegal” in the state.
The top court had earlier dismissed the Tamil Nadu government’s plea seeking a review of the 2014 judgement banning the use of bulls for Jallikattu events in the state and bullock cart races across the country.