Tamil Nadu

T.N.’s new jallikattu law faces challenge in Supreme Court

Youths try to catch a bull during a jallikattu event held at Rapoosal village in Pudukkottai on Sunday.

Youths try to catch a bull during a jallikattu event held at Rapoosal village in Pudukkottai on Sunday.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to hear a plea by the Animal Welfare Board of India, Compassion Unlimited Plus Action and animal rights activists to stay the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Bill, 2017 passed by the State Assembly.

The challenge termed the amendment a “fraud” on the Constitution and a violation of a 2014 Supreme Court judgment, which had declared jallikattu as an “inherently cruel” event practised on bulls.

It described jallikattu as an “extremely violent” event where untrained persons either volunteer or are “coerced” into taming or fighting terrified bulls agitated by the organisers and the crowd.

The challenge said every year many individuals get seriously injured or are killed by the bulls while participating or watching the event. A battery of lawyers led by senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Anand Grover appeared for the various applicants before a Bench led by Justice Dipak Misra.

Justice Misra told the lawyers that the court will take up their case probably on Monday when he would sit in combination with Justice Rohinton F. Nariman. Both judges form the Jallikattu Bench of the apex court.

The development comes a day after Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi informed the Supreme Court that the government would file an interlocutory application seeking the withdrawal of the January 7, 2016 central notification allowing jallikattu in the wake of the amendment passed by the State. The judgment on the constitutionality of the central notification was reserved in December 2016 after lengthy hearings.

The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), which is the main petitioner in the 2016 challenge against the earlier January 7 central notification, contended in its 14-page application, filed on January 24, 2017 through advocate Anjali Sharma, that the Tamil Nadu amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 was ultra vires of the 1960 Act and the Constitution.

'Won't challenge TN Law'

When contacted, AWBI Chairman (Acting) told The Hindu that the organisation would not be challenging the Tamil Nadu amendment.

“I don’t know about other organisations but AWBI won’t be filing any petition. We also don’t intend to in the future,” said S.S. Negi, who is also Special Secretary (Forest) in the Union Environment Ministry. The AWBI is an autonomous body affiliated to the Union Environment Ministry and advises the government on properly implementing the 1960 Act.

However, Ms. Sharma responded that she received the authorisation from the legal sub-committee of the AWBI to move the Supreme Court.

“Authorisation was received by me yesterday [Tuesday] from the AWBI, to do any required filing in W.P. 23 of 2016, which is the writ petition we had filed last year challenging the Central Government notification permitting jallikattu in violation of the 2014 A. Nagaraja judgment of the Supreme Court. Please note, this was issued after the legal sub-committee of the Board comprising the Chairperson Mr. Negi, Vice-Chairperson Dr. Chinny Krishna, Ms. Norma Alvarez, Mr. Doulat Jain, and Mr. N.G. Jayasimha, apart from me, had exchanged mails consenting to the filing by me,” Ms. Sharma, also an AWBI member, informed by e-mail.

The AWBI application submitted that the amendment was “nothing but a surreptitious method of circumventing the law laid down by the Supreme Court, without addressing the legal basis of the judgment [Animal Welfare Board of India versus A. Nagaraja in 2014]”, which banned the bull-taming event. It said the amendment was a response to the widespread protests across Tamil Nadu for ‘lifting the ban’ imposed by the Nagaraja judgment, and an interim order passed by the apex court on January 12, 2016 staying the January 7 notification.

It contended that the Tamil Nadu Governor promulgated the jallikattu ordinance and rules showing ‘scant respect’ to the Nagaraja judgment, followed by the passing of the amendment on January 23, 2017 by the Assembly. “Under Section 38 of the Prevention of Cruelty Act, 1960 only the Centre is vested with the power to frame rules, and hence the rules framed under Section 3(2) [allowing jallikattu] of the Tamil Nadu Act are in fact invalid and therefore inapplicable,” the application submitted.

The application contended that the new rules are “very similar” to the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009, which was struck down by the SC. It referred to SC’s judgments in the Dr. D.C. Wadhwa and Others versus State of Bihar of 1987 and C. Gajapati Narayan Deo versus State of Orissa to contend that the State cannot overturn the rule of law through concealed actions. “A binding judgment [Nagaraja judgment] cannot be rendered ineffective by enactment of legislation that substantially overrules the intended effect of the judgment,” it contended.

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Printable version | Sep 11, 2022 12:20:22 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/T.N.%E2%80%99s-new-jallikattu-law-faces-challenge-in-Supreme-Court/article17092209.ece