Jallikattu Ban: Supreme Court reserves judgment on petitions

Jallikattu ban: The Supreme Court on Thursday withheld its decision on a batch of petitions challenging the rules of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra that enable the bull-taming sport “Jallikattu” and bullock cart racing.

The Supreme Court had previously stated that the petitions challenging the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, required to be resolved by a larger bench because they raised significant constitutional problems. It had stated that a larger bench would consider whether states have the “legislative competence” to impose such legislation on grounds such as Jallikattu and bullock cart racing being under the cultural rights guaranteed in Article 29 (1) and can be constitutionally protected.

Jallikattu ban: Senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi, arguing for Tamil Nadu, informed a five-judge Constitution bench comprising Justices KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy, and CT Ravikumar that countries such as Peru, Columbia, and Spain regard bullfighting to be part of their cultural history.

Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra changed the central law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, respectively, to enable Jallikattu and bullock cart racing.

The petitions were filed before the Supreme Court in order to challenge the state laws.

PETA petition drive

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) launched a petition drive to overturn the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly’s Jallikattu statute, which reintroduced bulls into the category of “performance animals.”

PETA had challenged the state assembly’s passage of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Bill 2017 on many grounds, including that it circumvented an apex court ruling declaring the bull-taming sport “illegal” in the state.

Bullock cart races across the country

The Supreme Court denied the Tamil Nadu government’s request for a review of a 2014 ruling prohibiting the use of bulls in Jallikattu events in the state and bullock cart races across the country.

Jallikattu is performed during the Pongal festival as a form of thankfulness for a bountiful harvest, and subsequent festivities are held in temples, demonstrating the event’s cultural and spiritual significance, it had added.

In February 2018, the Supreme Court referred to the Constitution bench the question of whether the people of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra can defend Jallikattu and bullock-cart races as cultural rights under Article 29 (1) of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court had previously stated that the petitions challenging the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, required to be resolved by a larger bench because they raised significant constitutional problems.

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