Staff Reporter

MADURAI: The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has declined to entertain a couple of public interest litigation petitions seeking permission for `jallikattu' (bull taming), a rural sport to be held in Madurai and Theni districts.

A Division Bench, comprising Justice Dharma Rao Elipe and Justice P.P.S. Janarthana Raja, was of the view that the sport could be conducted only during the `Pongal' (harvest festival) season in mid-January and not otherwise.

When counsel for one of the petitioners contended that traditionally the sport was conducted on different days between the Tamil months of `Thai' and `Masi' (January-February), Mr. Justice Elipe said "You cannot conduct the festival for all 365 days. Ask them [villagers] to slowly give up this practice."

Referring to a counter-affidavit filed by the Madurai District Collector in a batch of cases, pending before the court on the similar issue, the Judge said, "It is the specific case of the Collector that it [jallikattu] is part of Pongal. How can you conduct it now?"

Hence, in order to avoid dismissal, counsel preferred to withdraw both the petitions.

It all began on March 29, 2006 when a single judge, presiding over the Bench, directed the State Government to prevent cruelty to animals in the guise of `rekela' (bullock cart) race, oxen race, `jallikattu' and such other forms of entertainment. Reacting to the judgment, people from southern districts filed petitions before the Division Bench.

Interim stay

Subsequently, the Bench on January 10 granted an interim stay of the orders passed by the single judge. It also directed the Collectors and Superintendents of Police to provide adequate security and medical facilities at the venues. Pursuant to the interim orders, the sport was conducted in many villages, including Alanganallur and Palamedu in Madurai.