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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

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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US: Supreme Court Blocks Administration’s Effort to Add Citizenship Question on Census

The citizenship question was meant to better enforce the Voting Rights Act

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US, Supreme Court, Citizenship
FILE - Demonstrators protest during a Fair Maps rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court, in Washington, U.S., March 26, 2019. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump responded Thursday to the Supreme Court’s decision to block his administration’s effort to add a citizenship question to the upcoming U.S. census by saying he’d asked his lawyers whether there was a way to delay the nationwide head count.

In a tweet hours after the court announced its decision, Trump said it “seems totally ridiculous” that the government could not question people about their citizenship on the census, which takes place once every 10 years.

The Supreme Court ruled the administration’s explanation — that the citizenship question was meant to better enforce the Voting Rights Act — was “more of a distraction” from the issue than an explanation.

Opponents of the citizenship question say it would intimidate noncitizens into not answering the census, ultimately leaving them underrepresented in Congress.

US, Supreme Court, Citizenship
U.S. President Donald Trump responded Thursday to the Supreme Court’s decision to block his administration’s effort. Pixabay

Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court’s liberal justices in the 5-4 ruling.

 The nation’s highest court also announced Thursday that it was rejecting a request to intervene in states’ redistricting efforts.  Redrawing the boundaries of voting districts is meant to ensure proportional representation in state legislatures as the population grows and changes locations.

Republicans in the state of North Carolina and Democrats in the state of Maryland have been accused of redrawing the lines of voting districts to keep power in the hands of the ruling party.

The chief justices said manipulation of the electoral map, a practice known colloquially as gerrymandering, is a problem for state governments to solve, not the Supreme Court.

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Thursday was the final day of rulings by the Supreme Court before its summer break. (VOA)