The union government’s decision to create an exception to the Supreme Court ban and allow Jallikattu, a bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu, has enraged the animal welfare groups, who said they will challenge the government’s decision.
Taking exception to the Supreme Court order of May 2014, where the top court banned the use of bulls as performing animals, the central government has decided to allow Jallikattu, though with safeguards.
“What we have allowed is (Jallikattu) with proper safeguards and ensuring it is without cruelty to animals. Historic and cultural practices are being allowed with many restrictions put on them,” said union Minister for Forests and Environment Prakash Javadekar to media.
Animal welfare associations have called the government’s new notification “unconstitutional” and said that it goes against the spirit of the Supreme Court’s order.
“The Supreme Court judgment has categorically said that Jallikattu is illegal. This new notification is all against the Supreme Court judgment. The Animal Welfare Board India (AWBI) is going to pass a resolution and then challenge the order,” Anjali Sharma, a member of AWBI.
Sharma also recalled the Supreme Court’s decision that if any change was to be made to the notification, the AWBI should be consulted.
“Sati was also a traditional practice, but we had to oppose it. This tradition is also such which is inherently cruel to animals,” added Sharma, opposing the view that traditional practices must be allowed to continue.
Through a notification on January 7, 2016, the union government said animals like bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, lions and bulls “shall not be exhibited or trained as a performing animal”, at the same time making an exception for use of bulls at Jallikattu and bullock-cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab and a few other states, with few safeguards to protect these animals.
The notification superseded the earlier notification dated July 11, 2011, which was quashed by the Supreme Court.
Chaitanya Hoduri, a member at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), echoed the AWBI views.
“At first, it is illegal to allow the conduct of Jallikattu, according to Supreme Court order. We will definitely challenge this as it is unconstitutional,” Hoduri said.
In its latest notification, the government has allowed sports like Jallikattu as long as the event is held in a place permitted by the district collector or magistrate, and that the bullock-cart race is organised on a proper track, while ensuring that bulls are put to tests by veterinary departments to make sure they are in good physical condition.
Tamil Nau’s bull-taming sport is considered a traditional one, and conducted during Pongal celebrations, but has drawn widespread criticism from animal welfare associations which say the bulls are subjected to unnecessary pain and suffering.
Upholding similar view of Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the Supreme Court on May 7, 2014, held that “bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for the Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country.”
Asking for lifting the court-imposed ban, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2015, urging him that parliament pass a bill allowing the sport.