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Supreme Court refuses to pass judgment on jallikattu before Pongal

The bench said the draft of the verdict was ready but could not be delivered before the festival, which falls on Saturday.

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a plea that sought a judgment on the bull-taming sport of jallikattu before the Pongal festival, which falls on Saturday. It is “unfair to ask the bench to pass order”, said the court, according to ANI.

The apex court said the draft of the judgment was ready but could not be delivered before Saturday. This means the practice will continue to be banned this Pongal if the Centre does not intervene and pass an ordinance. Jallikattu is traditionally organised as part of the five-day Pongal celebrations.

Meanwhile, sporadic protests against the ban erupted across Tamil Nadu. In Madurai on Wednesday, police had baton-charged a group of protesting students who were reportedly going to the collector’s office to submit a plea in favour of the bull-taming sport. “Jallikattu is our tradition, why should they ban it? They have misunderstood the sport,” law student Nagaraj told India Today.

Actor Simbu condemned the police action and called for a silent protest outside his house on Thursday evening. “We can show our protest by standing in front of our houses and work places. Let’s see who will arrest us then,” he had said, according to The Indian Express.

Students in Coimbatore took to the streets, as well. The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam also announced a statewide agitation against the ban, reported ANI.

Four members of pro-Tamil party Naam Thamizar were arrested in Cuddalore on Thursday for organising jallikattu in a barren patch of land in defiance of the Supreme Court ban. Police took away the bulls used at the event and vowed to take action against the men, India Today reported.

On Wednesday, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Sasikala Natarajan and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to pass an ordinance to allow jallikattu during the Pongal festival this year. “Given the urgency of the issue, the government of India should consider promulgating an ordinance to remove the legal impediments and enable the conduct of jallikattu during Pongal, 2017,” read Panneerselvam’s letter.

Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave on Tuesday said the Centre would take a stand on the controversy surrounding the sport after the Supreme Court pronounces its final verdict.

The apex court has been hearing petitions on the sporting event since it was banned in 2014. On July 26, 2016, the Supreme Court had said jallikattu may be 5,000 years old, but it was for the judiciary to decide whether the practice could continue. “We have to show compassion to the animals. It is our constitutional obligation,” the bench had said.

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