India’s top court defends bull-fighting as part of nation’s ‘cultural heritage’ (msn.com)
India’s top court defends bull-fighting as part of nation’s ‘cultural heritage’
India’s Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of state laws allowing traditional bull taming sports of Jallikattu and Kambala, and bullock-cart racing.
On Thursday, a five-judge bench of the court, including justices KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar upheld the amendments made to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, by the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra where these sports are traditionally held.
The court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of the amendments.
The court held that the amendments did not violate its 2014 order banning Jallikattu.
The centuries-old sport of Jallikattu is extremely popular in Tamil Nadu during the four-day Pongal harvest festival in January in which hundreds of bull vaulters compete in a carnival-like atmosphere.
On Thursday, the top court said that these laws remedy the defects pointed out by the judgment in 2014 and the effect of the laws is to minimise the pain and suffering caused to animals, reported legal news portal LiveLaw.
“In A Nagaraja [2014 judgment] the sport was held to attract the restrictions under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, because of the manner in which it was practiced. The amendment Act and rules substantially minimises pain and suffering to animals…”, Justice Aniruddha Bose was quoted as saying by the outlet.
The bench added: “We are satisfied on materials that Jallikattu is going on in Tamil Nadu for last one century.
“Whether this is integral part of Tamil culture requires greater detail, which exercise judiciary cannot undertake… When the legislature has declared that Jallikattu is part of the cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu state, the judiciary cannot take a different view. Legislature is best suited to decide that.”
The court added that its judgment would also apply to laws on Kambala and bull-cart racing in Maharashtra and Karnataka and directed that these laws be followed strictly.
The court order, however, has been criticised by animal rights activists.
“Since 2017, at least 104 men and children and 33 bulls have died. More deaths will occur,” Poorvi Joshipura, a spokesperson for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) India was quoted as saying to the Associated Press.
The global animal rights organisation was a complainant in the case in the country’s apex court.
Two years after the top court held that Jallikattu violated the rights of the animals and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the federal government carved out an exception for Jallikattu and bullock cart races from the scope of the law.
The move was challenged by animal rights organisations in the Supreme Court.
While the matter was pending, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, was passed. Similar amendments were passed by Maharashtra and Karnataka.
The apex court’s order has upheld the constitutionality of the federal government’s action as well as the amendments passed by the states.