Tamil Nadu

Now, AWBI Secretary wants SC case against new jallikattu law withdrawn

A float in support of Jallikattu -- the ban on which has been since overturned -- during a parade to mark the Republic Day in Chennai.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Barely 24 hours after the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), an autonomous body affiliated to the Central government, approached the Supreme Court challenging the new Tamil Nadu Jallikattu law as a “fraud” on the Indian Constitution, the Board’s Secretary wrote to its lawyer to “immediately” withdraw the case.

In a letter dated January 25, 2017, Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) Secretary M. Ravikumar, IFS, wrote to Board member and advocate Anjali Sharma, that “if any petition has been filed challenging the Tamil Nadu Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 (Tamil Nadu Ordinance 1 of 2017) on behalf of the AWBI, the same may be withdrawn immediately.”

Only after AWBI nod

Claiming the Board found it had moved the Supreme Court against the Tamil Nadu law only through media reports, Mr. Ravikumar cautioned that court cases related to AWBI should be filed before the Supreme Court or any other court “only after the approval/decision of the Board.”

“This means with the approval of the Competent Authority,” he emphasised in his letter, without mentioning who the ‘competent authority’ is.

However, the January 25 letter follows a written authorisation Mr. Ravikumar himself had given Ms. Sharma two days prior, on January 23, 2017, “to represent the AWBI and sign vakalatnama, counter-affidavit and other necessary documents” in connection with the Jallikattu case (Writ Petition (Civil) No. 23 of 2016) in the Supreme Court.

Ms. Sharma had filed the current application in the Supreme Court against the Tamil Nadu law on January 24, 2017 – the very next day after receiving the authorisation.

Hearing on Monday

On January 25 morning, the application was mentioned before the Supreme Court for urgent hearing. Justice Dipak Misra has now agreed to hear the AWBI and several animal rights organisations and activists on Monday.

Countering the Secretary’s letter, Ms. Sharma, in an e-mail response, said: “The interim application in the existing Writ Petition No. 23 of 2016 was filed after the Secretary, AWBI, issued an authorisation in my favour, which he forwarded to me vide an e-mail in which the Chairperson, AWBI, and the Vice-Chairperson, AWBI, are both copied.”

“Additionally, before the AWBI filed its main Writ Petition No. 23 of 2016 [in which the present application has been filed], the members of the AWBI had authorised me and the then Chairperson of the AWBI to file and sign the petition and all related case papers through a Board Resolution that was passed with overwhelming majority. I am an Executive Committee Member of the AWBI, and the Convener of its Legal Sub-Committee,” she said.

“Papers part of SC record”

Ms. Sharma said the Secretary’s January 25 letter has no legal sanctity. She added that all the relevant papers, including the AWBI authorisation, are part of the Supreme Court record.

In its application, AWBI has called the Tamil Nadu amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 a “surreptitious method to circumvent law laid down by Supreme Court in 2014. It accused the Tamil Nadu Governor of showing ‘scant respect’ to the Supreme Court ban by promulgating the ordinance. It termed the Tamil Nadu law “repugnant” to the 1960 Act.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 11:36:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Now-AWBI-Secretary-wants-SC-case-against-new-jallikattu-law-withdrawn/article17098092.ece

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