Ban on Jallikattu stays, SC notice to centre and TN

What is the necessity of such a festival like Jallikattu, asked the judge

GN Bureau | January 12, 2016



The supreme court has stayed the notification allowing Jallikattu and bullock cart races in Tamil Nadu and other states. It has been part of Pongal festivities, beginning from January 15. Jallikattu was banned by the SC in 2014.

The bench of justices Dipak Misra and NV Ramana prima facie agreed with the arguments made by a batch of petitioners, led by Animal Welfare Board of India, that Jallikattu is "inherently cruel" and bulls cannot be used or tortured as performing animals for human festivity.

A stay on the January 7 notification means that the 2014 SC judgment banning jallikattu will continue to prevail during Pongal starting on January 15.

Admitting the petitions, the Bench gave the Tamil Nadu Government and the Centre four weeks to file affidavits in response to the petitions.

Earlier in the dayjustice R Banumathi recused herself from hearing the jallikattu case in the Supreme Court. She had first banned jallikattu during her tenure as judge of the Madurai bench of the Madras high court. She was part of an earlier three judge bench headed by chief justice TS Thakur that was to hear the case.

"What is the necessity of such a festival like Jallikattu? There was no festival for four years," justice Misra asked in reference to the first prohibitory notification on Jallikattu issued by the Centre on July 11, 2011, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in its 2014 judgment.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said Jallikattu is not the "bull fight of Spain" and care had been taken to include provisions in the 2016 notification to prevent cruelty to the animals.

The new norms triggered howls of protests and animal welfare organisations -- including the animal welfare board – filed a clutch of petitions in the court.

But the Centre objected to the pleas, saying no fundamental right of the petitioners were violated and questioned the maintainability of the petitions. The court also issued a notice on whether the petitions could be heard or not.

Both the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government assured the court that the new notification underlined safety measures and precautions to be taken during the festival.

Under the rules, permission has to be given by the district collector or magistrate and bullock cart races must be held on a proper track. Bulls, once they leave the enclosure, have to be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metres, the government order said.

The new norms came after a concerted political push by parties in the poll-bound Tamil Nadu, where the banned sport has a strong connection with thousands of people who view it as a part of their culture.

Chief minister J Jayalalithaa had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, backing the sport, which wasn’t held last year for the first time in decades.

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