The Supreme Court on Wednesday challenged the Centre’s notification that permits bulls to be used for entertainment, especially during the traditional bull-taming sport jallikattu in Tamil Nadu. Referring to the controversial sport as “gladiator-type”, the apex court on Wednesday said that at the prima facie level, Jallikattu involves cruelty against animals, The Indian Express reported.

The court’s remarks were a reply to the Tamil Nadu government’s argument that Spain had allowed the “far more cruel” sport of bull-fighting on the grounds of cultural heritage, The Hindu reported. The bench led by by Justice Dipak Misra said, “We cannot import a gladiator-type sport. One can use computers for indulging in bull fighting. Why tame bulls for it?”

The court dismissed the Centre’s contention that the government was entitled to categorise animals that can be used in performances. The bench said, “We have to show compassion to the animals. It is our constitutional obligation.”

The court will hear the case next on November 16.

On July 26, the Supreme Court had said jallikattu may be 5,000 years old, but that it was for the judiciary to decide if it could continue. The state had argued that the sport should be allowed because it is a centuries-old tradition in the region. Earlier that month, the Law and Justice Ministry had given its approval to a draft amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which would allow the use of animals in traditional cultural practices. The proposed law’s provisions included jallikattu, which the Supreme Court had banned to popular discontent on January 15.

Jallikattu is traditionally played in Tamil Nadu during the Pongal festival. It is one of many animal-related practices that tend to go hand-in-hand with harvest festivals in parts of the country.