The Supreme Court on Thursday permitted the Tamil Nadu government to allow ‘jallikattu' for five months in a year from January 15 in accordance with the law enacted by it for regulation of the event.

A Bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice A.K. Patnaik in its order made it clear that the animals participating in the event were to be categorised as per the provisions of the Act.

The Bench directed the District Collectors to ensure that the animals requiring participation were registered with the Animal Welfare Board., which Board should send its representative to monitor the event.

Under the Act, no ‘jallikattu' would be permitted or held without the permission of the Collector and such permission should be obtained one month in advance. Further the event should be held only in notified places.

Taking into consideration the Board's submission that last year 12 deaths were reported and 1,614 persons injured in the events, the Bench directed the Collectors to categorise the events into larger and smaller ones and said a larger amount should be deposited when the events were larger and where deaths had taken place in 2009. The Bench asked the State to consider the Board's suggestion for framing the rules.

In its response, the State said ‘jallikattu' was an ancient, religious and sentimental cultural game that was being conducted for more than 400 years in villages during Pongal/harvestseason, temple/church festivals from January to December. However, as per the law, the event was restricted to five months from January to May.

The State said at present Rs. 2 lakh was to be deposited by the organisers for the benefit of the victim, including the victim's family, in case of an accident or injury during the event. Since it was held mostly in villages as part of village festivals, the enhancement of the amount was not considered. Instead, individual or group insurance was suggested by collecting a nominal premium amount through insurance companies by organisers.

The government said that a full-fledged veterinary team would be available at the venue for testing and certifying the bulls for participation in the event to provide treatment for bulls that get injured.

The Act had sufficient safeguards and regulations for the orderly conduct of the event, the State said.

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