Jallikattu ban: SC dismisses T.N. plea

In a blow to the farmers community in Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a review petition filed by the State to review a 2014 apex court judgment banning Jallikattu.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Rohinton Nariman said the very act of "taming a bull" to perform in an event runs counter to the concept of welfare of the animal, which is the basic foundation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.

The State, represented by senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, had countered that Jallikattu was not cruelty and was defined as an act of "taming" of bulls as per a 2009 State law enacted to "regulate" the event.

"The 2009 Act was introduced to stop any kind of torture. Taming a bull is not torture. You cannot ban Jallikattu just because there was torture long ago. It is like a bank stopping all loans just because somebody had cheated it once long ago," Mr. Naphade submitted.

Appearing for the Animal Welfare Board of India, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, countered that "festivals cannot celebrate cruelty". He argued that the 2009 State law was "repugnant" to the 1960 Central law.

Mr. Naphade said the 1960 Act had no power over the State law and it was the prerogative of Tamil Nadu under Entries 14 and 15 of the State List to preserve and care for its own livestock.

But the Bench agreed with Mr. Singhvi that there was indeed a "head-long collision" between the 1960 Act and the Tamil Nadu law of 2009 on what constitutes 'cruelty'.

"There is a direct collision between the two enactments in as much as one stands for the welfare of animals (1960 Act) and the other (2009 Tamil Nadu law) makes bulls a participant in an event meant for the inferior pleasure of man," the Supreme Court concluded.

Taming of bulls

The court observed in its order that it was "inconceivable" that a bull, a domestic animal, should be tamed for entertainment's sake.

The court threw out Tamil Nadu's argument that the ban affected the fundamental right to religion enshrined under Article 25 of the Indian Constitution.

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Misra said it was "unfathomable" why the State has contrived a connection between Jallikattu — an event — and the right to religious freedom.

"How does Article 25 come in here? Jallikattu is not a religious event. You are defaming the framers of the Constitution by linking Jallikattu to Article 25," Justice Misra addressed Mr. Naphade.

"But every festival has a religious base. I cannot think of any festival which has not originated from a religion... Diwali is also on the same footing," Mr. Naphade countered.

In its order, the Bench said Jallikattu was an "event" meant for the sheer entertainment of man at the expense of the animal and has nothing to do with religious freedom.

Earlier, Mr. Naphade argued that what was banned under law was "paid entertainment" and not a socio-cultural event with a religious association like Jallikattu, which is organised by the farming community of the State.

"If Jallikattu is banned for being paid entertainment, then why don't you ban horse racing too... How are you permitting horse racing?" Mr. Naphade argued.

The 2014 Supreme Court had banned Jallikattu after declaring it to be an act of "inherent cruelty".

In January this year, the Centre had tried to circumvent the court ban by issuing a notification introducing bulls into the list of 'performing animals'. Environmental activists approached the SC, arguing that the notification was a bid to revive Jallikattu.

Touching on the notification, the Bench observed in its order that the validity of the notification would be adjudged by the court in the parameters of the 1960 Act.

The future of the central notification looks bleak as the Bench has already observed that the 1960 Act is dedicated to "prevent unnecessary pain and suffering caused to animals".

"Prevention of cruelty to animals is the motto of the 1960 Act," Justice Misra observed.

The court has scheduled the hearing on the January 2016 notification for Thursday next.

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Printable version | Sep 25, 2021 11:23:07 PM |

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