The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the laws made by Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra to allow animal sports Jallikattu, Kambala and bull-cart racing, reported Live Law.
Jallikattu or Eruthazhuvuthal is a bull-taming sport popular in Tamil Nadu. It is played as part of the celebration of the Pongal harvest festival. Kambala is an annual buffalo race held in Karnataka.
In 2017, the Tamil Nadu government of Tamil Nadu had legalised Jallikattu by passing the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017. The laws were made to revoke a 2014 order of the Supreme Court banning the bull-taming sport.
On Thursday, a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice KM Joseph was hearing a batch of petitions seeking compliance of the 2014 order. The Animal Welfare Board of India and multiple animal rights groups, including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, were among the petitioners.
The Supreme Court held that the amendments to Jallikattu rules, introduced by Tamil Nadu in 2017, left “little room for cruelty to the animals”, reported The Hindu.
“It remedies the mischiefs which were in vogue before the legislation came into existence,” the judges said. “...The state law does not violate Articles 14 [equality of rights] and 21 [protection of life and personal liberty] of the Constitution.”
The petitioners had argued that animals too had the right to live with dignity.
The Supreme Court also observed that under Entry 17 to List II of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, state governments have the legislative power to make amendments as those made to the Jallikattu rules. The Seventh Schedule of the Constitution deals with the division of power between the Centre and states.
The court added that its verdict will be applicable to laws on Kambala in Karnataka and bull-cart racing in Maharashtra as well.
Reacting to the verdict, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin said it was a “huge victory” to the legal battle taken forward by his government.
“The verdict delivered by the Supreme Court bench that there is no ban on holding Jallikattu, a sport reflecting Tamils’ bravery and culture is worth engraving in gold in the history of Tamil Nadu,” Stalin tweeted.
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Edappadi K Palaniswami also hailed the decision, saying it was a victory of Tamil Nadu’s culture.
However, animal rights group PETA expressed disappointment over the ruling and said it was exploring legal remedies to protect bulls, reported PTI.
“Morality cannot be compromised in the guise of culture,” PETA said. “The same court interprets culture differently when it is about same-sex marriages but people being gored to death in Jallikattu events seem like a precious tradition that they wish to preserve.”