The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the government to file an affidavit containing full details on how the traditional bull-taming sport of Jallikattu was conducted.
The order was passed by a five-Judge Constitution Bench comprising Justice K.M. Joseph, Justice Ajay Rastogi, Justice Aniruddha Bose, Justice Hrishikesh Roy and Justice C.T. Ravi Kumar on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of laws permitting Jalikattu, Kambala and bull-cart race in states like Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.
The petitions have been filed by many animal welfare activists, besides the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Appearing for the government of Tamil Nadu, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal contended that there were regulations that the bulls should run only 15 meters during the competition.
The Bench questioned how the bulls could run only 15 meters? Also, were all cowherds allowed to tame the bull? Were surveillance cameras installed at the place where Jallikattu took place?
Sibal replied that only one eligible player was allowed to touch the bull at a time during the competition.
He argued that all precautionary measures were being taken at the venue of the match and they have video evidence of the same.
Sibal further mentioned that there were many aspects to be looked into before banning the traditional competition. He said if not for the sport, many bulls would end up in slaughterhouses. He also mentioned the culture and tradition related to the sport and sought disposing of all petitions against Jallikattu.
Earlier on Wednesday, representing some of the petitioners, Senior Advocate Shyam Divan had contended that despite a few ‘cosmetic’ changes, compelling the bull to fight with all the best safeguards still amounted to cruelty to the animal
The bench noted that the Tamil Nadu government had said that these bulls were trained and treated with great affection.
In 2014, the Supreme Court had observed that bulls cannot be used as performing animals either for “jallikattu” events or bullock-cart races, and banned their use for these purposes across the country. A petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government seeking review of the 2014 verdict was also turned down by the Apex Court.
Tamil Nadu had amended the Central law – The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, so as to permit Jallikattu in the state.
The Bench had observed on Wednesday that after the amendment was made, the state came out with certain rules with precautions to be taken care of under the aegis of the district collector concerned.
Justice Rastogi observed the problem was that the rules may be in any form, but the ground realities never matched.
Senior Advocate V Giri, representing some other petitioners, said the validity of a legislation cannot be tested or defended by a reference to the rules.
The arguments will continue tomorrow.