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Animals may not have Rights, but they cannot be subjected to Cruelty by Humans: Supreme Court

The apex court by its May 7, 2014, order had banned Tamil Nadu's centuries-old Jallikattu -- bull fights -- saying that bulls could not be used as performing animals

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Jallikattu Bull-fight. Flickr
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New Delhi, November 10, 2016: The Supreme Court on Wednesday said animals may not have rights but they cannot be subjected to cruelty by humans.

Further hammering the point, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said what is embedded in the Constitution and the statutes cannot be taken away by a notification.

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“How can you take away something that is constitutionally embedded,” the court asked, pointing out that January 7 notification permitting the “use of bulls for Jallikattu” and cart race took away the very basis of May 7, 2014, Supreme Court judgment that had banned Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu.
Supreme Court Judge Dipak Misra. Youtube
Supreme Court Judge Dipak Misra. Youtube

In an observation, the bench asked Tamil Nadu counsel that on one hand you are worshiping a cow describing her as holy, and on the other hand you are torturing bulls. “How is this?”

The January 7 notification, while retaining bulls in the list of animals prohibited from being used for public performances or exhibition has carved out an exception permitting their use for Jallikattu with a rider that they would not be inflicted with any cruelty.

The apex court by its May 7, 2014, order had banned Tamil Nadu’s centuries-old Jallikattu — bull fights — saying that bulls could not be used as performing animals, either for the Jallikattu events or bullock cart races.

Holding that Jallikattu, bullock cart race and such events per se violate the Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals Act, the apex court by its May 7, 2014, verdict had said: “Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many of the countries around the world, so as to protect their dignity and honour.”

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The court’s observations came in the course of hearing of a batch of petitions by NGOs Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, Animal Equality, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals India, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, the Animal Welfare Board of India, and animal right activist Gauri Maulekhi challenging the notification.

Even as Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha sought to defend the state notification, Justice Nariman said that the notification purported to take away the very basis of the 2014 judgment.

“Do you remove the very basis of the (2014) judgment? It is based and founded on constitutional provision, we don’t think you will be able to remove,” bench told Narasimha. “How does a bull get trained? Once an animal is prohibited for being used for entertainment, then how you can have a proviso indirectly providing for other purposes (Jallikattu)?”

The bench observed, “Either you allow (public performances or exhibition of bulls) or you completely prohibit it, you can’t have both.”

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As Tamil Nadu told the court that the hearing on the plea challenging January 7 notification should take place only after its review petition seeking recall of the 2014 verdict is decided, the bench said that it would hear both pleas — for the recall of 2014 verdict and batch of petitions challenging January 7 notification — on November 16. (IANS)

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Another Deadline Missed, No Draft Scheme on the Cauvery Dispute Till Now

On the expiry of the six-week deadline, the Centre sought extension of time till the completion of the electoral process in Karnata for submission of the Scheme.

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The court said that even if the Centre has not framed the scheme, Karnataka, under the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, was obliged to make monthly releases to Tamil Nadu.
Supreme Court of India. Wikimedia commons

The Centre yet again failed to submit a draft Scheme on the Cauvery river water dispute before the Supreme Court on the ground that the Prime Minister and other ministers were campaigning in Karnataka, which Tamil Nadu flayed as “brazen partisanship”.

Seeking 10 more days to finalize the scheme, Attorney General K.K. Venugopal told Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud: “A draft scheme has been placed before the Cabinet. Because of Karnataka elections, the Prime Minister and all other Ministers are in Karnataka. Before that the Prime Minister was abroad (in China).”

It also sought response from the Centre on the steps taken by it since the pronouncing of the judgement for putting in place a scheme for implementing its order on the sharing of Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.
Parliament of India, wikimedia commons

The Centre’s submission was countered strongly by senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, who said: “Sorry to say, the Central government is politicizing the issue. They are worried about their electoral fate in Karnataka. Election in Karnataka is on May 12 and somehow they don’t want to do it till then. We have enough of it. It is brazen partisanship of the Union of India. It is the end of co-operative federalism.”

The apex court in its February 16 judgement had directed the Centre to frame a Scheme within six months in accordance with the recommendation by the Cauvery River Water Tribunal for constitution of the Cauvery Management Board (CMB) and Cauvery Regulatory Authority (CRA), which Karnataka opposes strongly.

On the expiry of the six-week deadline, the Centre sought extension of time till the completion of the electoral process in Karnata for submission of the Scheme. Tamil Nadu filed a contempt petition against the Centre for failure to act within the deadline.

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During Thursday’s hearing, the court directed the Karnataka government to respond on how much of the four TMC of water it can release by month end. It also sought response from the Centre on the steps taken by it since the pronouncing of the judgement for putting in place a scheme for implementing its order on the sharing of Cauvery water among Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry.

In the course of the hearing, the court asked Karnataka to release 4 TMC of water by Monday.

The court said that even if the Centre has not framed the scheme, Karnataka, under the Cauvery Water Dispute Tribunal award, was obliged to make monthly releases to Tamil Nadu.

The court directed the next hearing of the matter on Tuesday. (IANS)