Ancient texts such as Upanishads can certainly be relied upon by courts while deciding legal principles, said the Supreme Court Monday as it dismissed a petition by the Tamil Nadu government to reconsider a decision on banning Jallikattu. Jallikattu is a bull-taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of the Pongal harvest festival.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Rohinton F Nariman held that a judgment could not be faulted only because it referred to ancient texts and cultural ethos since they might give a holistic analysis in consonance with constitutional values.
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“The court, we are inclined to think, while dealing with law and legal principles can refer to the cultural ethos and the ancient texts of this country as far as they do not run counter to constitutional and statutory thought and principle,” said the bench, affirming its reliance on Isha Upanishad in holding Jallikattu as bad in law.
In its 2014 judgment, the apex court has reproduced few lines from Isha Upanishad. But in its review petition, Tamil Nadu government contended that the court erred in referring to the Upanishads and that ancient texts could not have influenced the bench.
The court, however, said: “We do not think allusion to Isha Upanishad in the context of animal welfare is alien to the context…it cannot be said that the reference is unwarrantable. On the contrary, they present a holistic analysis that is in consonance with our constitutional value. We must say the criticism is unfair. We are obliged to say so, for philosophy of compassion can have manifold articulations.”
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