The Centre on Wednesday shifted the onus of lifting the ban on jallikattu on the State government, saying that the State could promulgate an ordinance invoking its jurisdiction under Entry 28 of the State List under the Constitution. But legal experts are of the view that such a law will not stand court scrutiny and might only end up embarrassing the State.
Entry 28 puts markets and fairs under the State List. It is under the category of ‘fairs’ that the Centre wants the State to bring in a new law to preserve jallikattu.
Mohan Parasaran, former Solicitor General, said such an ordinance would still contravene the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act.
“The State cannot take recourse to Entry 28 since it will not remove the repugnancy to PCA Act, which is a Central Act. The Supreme Court called jallikattu itself cruel,” he pointed out, adding that the apex court had already struck down a State Act (Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act) in its order banning the sport.
Senior advocate K.M. Vijayan said the Centre’s statement was more political than legal. “If it is sub judice to the Centre, how is it not sub judice to the State? Tamil Nadu is an impleaded party and the same would apply to the State government too,” he said. Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had cited the judicial proceedings in the Supreme Court as the reason for the inability of the Centre to promulgate an ordinance.
Mr. Vijayan said the matter had little to do with Entry 28 in the State list. On the other hand, it was Entry 17 in the Concurrent List, which provides powers to the State and the Centre to enact laws to prevent cruelty to animals, which was important.
If the State decides to invoke its jurisdiction under Entry 17 of the Concurrent List, then the ordinance needs “prior concurrence” of the President. “The Bill has to be sent to the President for his prior concurrence before the Governor could promulgate the ordinance. All this would be difficult in a day and it would still be open to judicial scrutiny,” he added.
In any case, since the Supreme Court had already struck down the idea of jallikattu citing the inherent cruelty in the event, any amount of regulation at this juncture may not work especially when the Supreme Court had reiterated its stay on the bull-taming festival on Wednesday.