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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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All You Need to Know About the Sport of Jallikattu

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

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banned bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu
Jallikattu sport of Tamil Nadu, Wikimedia

By Ruchika Verma

  • Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil sport
  • The sport involves bulls and humans, the latter trying to control the former
  • The sport was banned in 2014, which created a lots of controversy

Jallikattu or Sallikkattu, also known as ‘eru thazhuvuthal’ and ‘manju virattu’ traditionally, was in news last year, around this time due to the ban imposed on it by the Supreme Court. The ban was much hyped and gathered a plethora of media’s attention.

Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons
Jallikattu ban was much hyped. Wikimedia Commons

Jallikattu ban has also garnered lots of political attention due to the involvement of Tamil Nadu and Central governments. The issue is much hyed due to the political context involved in it too.

What exactly is Jallikattu ? 

Jallikattu is a traditional sport and spectacle in which bulls of the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds are released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to control the bulls while they try to escape.

Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr
Jallikattu is seen as animal cruelty by many activists. Flickr

Jallikattu is practised in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations. The districts, Madurai, Thanjavur, and Salem are the most famous for conducting Jallikattu. The game dates back to Tamil classical period, which went back to 400 BC. Ancient Tamil Sangam literature described the practice as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ which literally means “bull embracing.” With time the sport has become synonymous with valour and bravery.

Also Read : Tamil Nadu legalises Jallikattu with a New Law

What happens in Jallikattu and how?

The bulls participating in the game are all lined up behind a narrow gate and released one by one into the arena. The participants have to either control the bull by holding its hump or clutch away a flag attached to the horns. Owners of the bulls often announce prizes for the man who gets the hold of their bull.

The objective of the game is not to kill or overpower the bull, but to hold onto their hump for a certain amount of time or distance.

The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com
The participants are only allowed to hold onto the hump of the Bull. www.in.com

There are three variants to the game. First, when the  bulls are released from an enclosed area. Second, when the bull is directly released into open ground. And third, when bull is tied to a rope as the only restriction, and a team of 7-9 members has to untie the prize from the bull’s horns in 30 minutes of time period.

The gate through which bulls enter the arena are called vadi vasai. The bulls charge at the men standing most near to the gate. One of the rules also say that a participant is only allowed to hold bull’s hump and no other body part. The other rules varies from region to region.

Also Read : Animal rights organisations challenge new law on Jallikattu

Jallikattu Ban and Controversy

Jallikattu is certainly a dangerous sports, which poses a risk of life for the participants.

In 2014, The Supreme Court banned the sport, endorsing the activists’ concerns according to which, Jallikattu is not only cruelty towards the animal, but also poses a threat to humans. According to the data provided, between 2010 and 2014, 17 people were killed and approximately 1000 were injured during Jallikatu.

The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.
The Jallikattu ban was protests by many Tamilians.

However, the ban invited a lots of protests. Many Tamil communities called this ban a violation of their culture and tradition.

In 2017, many lawyers plead to remove the ban which was rejected by the court. After requests and arguments of Tamil communities, central government reversed the ban, however, after Supreme Court stuck the order down, the ban was imposed again. However, the government of Tamil Nadu sanctioned the sport and brought it back into the practice.