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If Constitution protects cows, why not bulls? SC questions Centre over revoking Jallikattu ban

The Supreme Court has questioned the Centre over its notification allowing use of bulls in events like Jallikattu, saying India cannot ‘import Roman gladiator type sport’.

India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Published on: November 10, 2016 11:00 IST ]
File pic - A man tries to control a bull during Jallikattu
File pic - A man tries to control a bull during Jallikattu celebrations

The Supreme Court has questioned the Centre over its notification allowing use of bulls in events like Jallikattu, saying India cannot ‘import Roman gladiator type sport’. 

The apex court bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Rohinton Nariman asked Additional Solicitor General PS Narasimha, appearing for Centre, ‘how it can permit Jallikattu where bulls are subjected to rough treatment and used for entertainment when the Constitution has provisions to protect cows’.

“On the one hand you want compassion towards cow on the other hand you want to use bull as a tool for entertainment for human being. If we go by constitutional principles of compassion, such a contradiction cannot be permitted. Even if you say that Jallikattu is a sport, it is not permissible. You better play computer games for entertainment,” the bench observed.

“How does the bull get tamed for entertainment? Can the bulls be contemplated for entertainment of human mind? Bulls are supposed to rest, why should they race,” it added.

The court also said that animals may not have rights but humans cannot negate their obligation enshrined under the Constitution. 

The court made these observations during the hearing of petitions filed by animal welfare organisations and activists challenging the Centre’s January 8, 2016 notification that revived controversial bull running sport Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu.

The bench said, “Jallikattu sport itself is cruelty on animals. There is prohibition of cruelty. We have to show compassion to the animals. It is our constitutional obligation.”

Narasimha contended that the government was empowered under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 to enlist animals to be used as performing ones. 

Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, said when humans can run for marathon, why can bulls not be made to do so. 

To this, the bench said, "Humans have a free will, but bulls are forced into it." 

The court later posted the matter for further hearing on November 26. 

Jallikattu, also known Eruthazhuvuthal, is a bull-taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of the Pongal harvest festival. 

The court in its 2014 judgement had said that bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country, and had banned their use across the country.

The apex court had also earlier declared Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 as constitutionally void, being violative or Article 254(1) of the Constitution. 

On January 8, the Centre had issued a notification lifting ban on Jallikattu in poll-bound Tamil Nadu with certain restrictions, which was challenged in the apex court by Animal Welfare Board of India, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, a Bangalore-based NGO and others. 

On July 26, the apex court had said that just because the bull-taming sport of Jallikattu was a centuries-old tradition, it cannot be justified. 

The apex court had said if the parties are able to convince the court that its earlier judgement was wrong, it may refer the matter to a larger bench. 

The Supreme Court had on January 21 refused to re-examine its 2014 judgement banning use of bulls for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races across the country. The apex court had earlier stayed January 8 notification. 

With PTI Inputs 

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