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If you ban jallikattu for animal cruelty, shut down zoos as well: Tamil Nadu tells Supreme Court

The apex court was hearing a plea against the Centre's January notice allowing the sport, despite ban. The bench said the notification 'negated' its directive.

The Tamil Nadu government on Thursday told the Supreme Court that zoos in the country should be shut down, as per the logic of animal cruelty that was cited to ban the bull-taming festival of jallikattu in the state. The state’s lawyer pointed out that zoological parks keep animals in small cages and enclosures, thus subjecting them to pain and agony, reported The Telegraph.

“What about tigers, lions and others animals that are kept in small cages?...Why don’t we close down the zoos because what happens there also amounts to cruelty to animals,” senior counsel Shekhar Naphade said. He said the sport was nothing but a “brief hug of the animal by able-bodied youths”.

The bench of justices Dipak Misra and Rohington Nariman was hearing a petition filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India against a notification issued by the Centre in January allowing the festival, though the apex court had imposed a ban on the sport in 2014.

The bench said the government’s notice “negated” the court’s directive, reported The Hindu. “How can you [the Centre] negate our judgment banning jallikattu by coming up with the January 2016 notification allowing bulls to participate in the sport again,” the court asked the government’s counsel.

The Centre told the apex court that before issuing the notice, the administration was asked to make sure that bulls were not tortured during the sport. The government’s counsel said measures were also taken to curb practices like making the bulls consume alcohol. The government also told the bench that it was not fair to ask villagers to go watch F1 sports.

The two-hour hearing was inconclusive and the court will hear the matter next on December 7. The bull-taming sport is held in January during the festival of Pongal.

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