President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday promulgated the Karnataka government’s Ordinance that legalises the buffalo racing sport, kambala. “The president has approved the promulgation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance, 2017,” read a statement from the president’s office. “Now, Kambala is officially legal in Karnataka.”

The Ministry of Law and Justice had cleared the amended legislation and sent it to the president for his approval earlier in June. The Ordinance brought in an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, exempting kambala – a traditional buffalo racing sport held in parts of the Karnataka – from the law. In the Bill, the state was careful to mention that the animals would be subjected to “no unnecessary pain or suffering” in the name of the sport.

The Karnataka Assembly had passed the Bill legalising kambala on February 13. The Bill states that the sport is vital to “preserving and promoting traditions and culture among the people in the state”.

Buffalo racing was barred in Karnataka after animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a petition against the practice. In its verdict, the Karnataka High Court had observed: “All animals are not anatomically designed to be performing animals...Unavoidable activities causing pain and suffering to animals must be avoided.”

On January 30, the High Court had said it would look into a petition challenging the ban on kambala only after the Supreme Court pronounces its verdict on Tamil Nadu’s bull-taming sport jallikattu.