The Supreme Court will hear on Tuesday a clutch of appeals challenging the Centre’s notification to allow bull taming sport Jallikattu during the festival of Pongal in Tamil Nadu.
On Monday, senior lawyers Sidharth Luthra and Anand Grover mentioned the matter before Chief Justice T S Thakur for an urgent hearing, pointing out that the decision to lift the ban has been taken days before traditional harvest festival Pongal is set to begin. The CJI accepted their plea and ordered for listing the matter before the appropriate bench on Tuesday.
The pleas have been moved by the Animal Welfare Board of India, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Compassion Unlimited plus Action, People For Animal and various other animal right groups.
Apart from applications to stay the Centre’s notification of January 7, contempt pleas have also been filed, contending that allowing Jallikattu is violation of the apex court’s 2014 order.
By a judgment in May 2014, the top court had prohibited use of bulls in ‘Jallikattu’ festivals, holding this practice to be an offence under the law.
The court had held that use of bulls in such events severely harmed the animals and constituted an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to the Animals Act. While striking down a notification by the Tamil Nadu government in this regard, the court had also rejected a proposal by the central government to allow use of bulls by amending the list of animals prohibited from being trained for performances.
However, the Centre had also put some conditions, saying bullock cart race shall be organised on a proper track, which shall not exceed two kilometres. In case of Jallikattu, the moment the bull leaves the enclosure, it shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metres and it should also be ensured that the bulls are put to proper testing by authorities of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department to ensure that they are in good physical condition to participate in the event.
But the government last week lifted the ban on use of bulls in ‘Jallikattu’ in poll-bound Tamil Nadu by creating an exception for bulls, which figures in the list of animals prohibited from being trained for performances. The notification says that “bulls may be continued to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra.. in the manner by customs of any community or practised traditionally.”