Horse racing not animal cruelty: SC

But the apex court is against tonga races on metal roads

December 06, 2016 12:27 am | Updated 04:31 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Horse racing per se is not cruelty, the Supreme Court said on Monday.

A Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud made this observation while issuing notice to the Rajasthan government on a petition challenging a High Court order banning tonga races in the State.

The Rajasthan High Court had relied on a Supreme Court judgment of 2014 banning jallikattu to stop the tonga races.

Tamil Nadu stand

The Tamil Nadu government, whose review petition to lift the 2014 ban on jallikattu was recently dismissed by the top court, has been repeatedly seeking an answer from the court why it allows horse racing while banning jallikattu.

“Horse racing per se is not cruelty, but tonga races on metal roads are,” Justice Khanwilkar observed.

The petitioner, Kishan Lal Lohiya, represented by counsel Ankit Acharya, contended that the High Court had erroneously relied on the jallikattu ruling. The petition argued that the 2014 judgment was confined only to bulls and not horses.

In fact, Mr. Lohiya argued, the Supreme Court judgment had clearly distinguished bulls as “bovine animals” unfit for running, while horses as “solid-hoofed quadruped, domesticated for riding”. The petition referred to how the Supreme Court in 2014 observed that the horse’s anatomy “enables it to make use of speed and can be usefully used for racing, etc, unlike bulls”.

“It is ironical that horses which are biologically equipped for racing cannot be used for tonga racing,” the petition challenged the logic behind the High Court ban.

But Justice Khanwilkar observed that the 2014 judgment and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 were against cruelty shown to all animals, whether bull or horse.

Countering this, Mr. Lohiya said the Jallikattu verdict dwelt on specific instances of cruelty shown to bulls like biting and twisting a bull’s tail, poking the bull with knives and sticks, using irritant solutions in the eyes, use of alcoholic liquids and throwing stones. In tonga races, the petitioner said, “No act of cruelty whatsoever is meted out to the horse, which is an animal meant to be used in racing,”

The petition said tonga races are held all over the world, including North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand under the name of harness racing.

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