State told not to allow spectators to enter area where bulls are tamed

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Tamil Nadu government not to allow spectators to enter the jallikattu area where bulls are tamed, by increasing the height of the barricade up to eight feet.

A Bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik, gave this direction taking note of the submissions made by senior counsel Ram Panjwani on behalf of the Animal Welfare Board that from January 15 to March 4, a total of 898 persons sustained injuries, including 674 bull tamers and 224 spectators and six people were killed.

The Bench posted the matter for final hearing in April.

Mr. Panjwani submitted that unauthorised jallikattu was also taking place and more bulls were participating in those events.

On behalf of the State, senior counsel Mariarputham submitted that instructions had been given to increase the height of the barricade and not to allow bulls to enter the spectators' area. This would reduce incidents of injuries. Additional Advocate General for the State Adish Aggarwala said cases had been registered against those who conducted unauthorised jallikattu.

The Board in its application stated that even after strict regulations were imposed, it was noticed that bull owners rubbed chilly powder packed in gutka sachets to avoid police checks into the bulls' eyes to make them more aggressive and run amok in the arena. There were large-scale violations of the guidelines and, as a result, many spectators sustained injuries. Contending that the event could be termed barbaric because of the cruel methods employed, the Board sought a direction to ban it.

The State opposed the ban on the ground that jallikattu was being conducted traditionally for over 400 years during Pongal festival season.

The government wanted the event to continue respecting the sentiments of people, who viewed it as a traditional sport.

The State wanted the court to permit the event with strict enforcement of the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, the guidelines of the Supreme Court and instructions of the Board.

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