Is Jallikattu a protected cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu? Constitution Bench fixes hearing on November 23

The five-judge Bench would also examine whether the new Jallikattu laws are “relatable” to Article 48 of the Constitution

September 30, 2022 12:14 am | Updated 12:14 am IST - NEW DELHI

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear on November 23 a batch of petitions seeking to strike down a Tamil Nadu law that protects Jallikattu by claiming that the bull-taming sport is a cultural heritage of the State and is protected under Article 29 (1) of the Constitution.

The five-judge Bench led by Justice K.M. Joseph has to consider whether the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act of 2017 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017 have re-opened the gates for the conduct of the popular bull-taming sport in the name of culture and tradition despite a 2014 ban by the Supreme Court.

The case was referred to the Constitution Bench in February 2018. It is for the first time that the apex court is considering the question of granting constitutional protection to Jallikattu as a collective cultural right under Article 29 (1), a fundamental right guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution to protect the educational and cultural rights of citizens. Though commonly used to protect the interests of minorities, Article 29 (1) mandates that “any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same”.

The Constitution Bench would also look into whether Jallikattu and bullock-cart races’ laws of Karnataka and Maharashtra would actually sub-serve the objective of “prevention” of cruelty to animals under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.

The court has to examine if the laws "perpetuate cruelty to animals" or are actually a means to ensure “the survival and well-being of the native breed of bulls”.

The five-judge Bench would examine whether the new Jallikattu laws are “relatable” to Article 48 of the Constitution, which says it is an endeavour of the State to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines.

In 2014, the Supreme Court, in the A. Nagaraja judgment, had held Jallikattu as cruelty to bulls.

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