Two Days Before Pongal, SC Again Disallows Jallikattu
“Though the draft of the judgment is ready, it’s not possible to pass the verdict before Saturday when it is to be held. We also want to say that it is unfair of the petitioner to ask the bench to pass an order” A Bench of justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi.
The chances of people in Tamil Nadu celebrating the century old traditional jallikattu (bull fighting) sport on Pongal which falls on January 14 is almost nil with the Supreme Court refusing to issue any interim order today and also saying it cannot pronounce the verdict in the fresh appeal by the state before Saturday when the harvest festival is celebrated.
The apex court, after hearing arguments had reserved the verdict on December 5.
When a group of lawyers from the state mentioned it in the morning, a Bench of justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi said it was “unfair of the petitioner to ask the bench to pass an order” in this regard before Saturday, although a draft of the judgment has already been prepared.
The apex court had banned the sport on grounds of animal cruelty in 2014 resulting in protests from political parties in Tamil Nadu .
This comes at a time when Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam vowed that the traditional bull baiting game will be allowed this year on occasion of Pongal.
VK Sasikala, general secretary of the ruling AIADMK, had also yesterday demanded that the Centre facilitate the conduct of Jallikattu this Pongal through an ordinance.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she said the event was “inextricably” linked to the rural and agrarian customs, practices and psyche of Tamils. Sasikala claimed Jallikattu was not cruel to the bulls, “unlike other sporting events involving horses and camels”.
In a major blow to the Tamil Nadu government, the Supreme Court had on November 14 turned down its review plea to lift the ban centuries old Jallikattu or bull fighting in the state.
A bench headed by justice Dipak Misra said it founded no ground for a review.
The rejection comes a week after the apex court had questioned the Centre for its notification allowing the use of bulls in events like Jallikattu, saying India cannot “import Roman gladiator type sport”
“Animals may not have rights but humans cannot negate their obligation enshrined under the Constitution. We cannot import Roman Gladiator type sport here. One can use computer for indulging in bull fighting. Why tame bulls for it,” the bench had said.
It categorically told Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, appearing for Centre, that the government cannot remove the very basis of the apex court’s May 7, 2014 judgement by making a notification.
The court in its 2014 judgement had said that bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for Jallikattuevents or bullock-cart races in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country, and had banned their use for such events all across the nation.
Animal rights activists had told the court that there is clear video evidence of how the animals are assaulted, intoxicated and subjected to other forms of cruelty. Lime juice is squeezed into their eyes and chilli powder is rubbed on their genitals to make them ferocious.
On January 7, the environment ministry, through a formal notification, allowed the sport to take place. The top court, which subsequently put a stop to it, will hear the case again on November 16.
On May 7,2014, Upholding animal rights and pointing out the "untold cruelty" the bovines are subjected to, the Supreme Court had banned centuries-old Jallikattu- bullfights and bullock-cart racing- organised during festivals in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states.
Significantly, the bench headed by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan (since retired) favoured elevating the rights of the animals to "constitutional rights".
"The Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many other countries, to protect their dignity and honour," the bench had said.
The ban order came on a petition filed by Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) against the judgment of Madras High Court, which allowed the sport to continue.
Besides referring to the cruelty the bullocks are made to endure, the bench also spoke about a large number of the animals getting injured and even dying during the event.
The court had directed governments and AWBI to take steps to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals saying "all living creatures, including animals, have inherent dignity and a right to live peacefully and right to protect their well-being".
This article has been made possible because of financial support from Independent and Public-Spirited Media Foundation.