‘Can state allow Jallikattu based on its perception of cultural rights’, SC asks TN govt

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Tamil Nadu government whether an animal can be used for the entertainment of humans, while hearing petitions against the state’s law permitting ‘Jallikattu’, a bull-taming sport.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing the Tamil Nadu government, submitted before a five-judge constitution bench headed by justice K.M. Joseph that the person who showcases his bull takes great care of the animal, and Jallikattu is not per se entertainment. Also, the bull is fed every day for the event in January, he argued.

The bench, also comprising justices Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and C.T. Ravikumar, said could the animal be subjected, in a sport like Jallikattu, for the entertainment of humans and can a state allow this on the basis of its perception of cultural rights?

Sibal contended that the court should look at it from a historical perspective, instead of looking at it as pure entertainment.

To this, the bench queried if it is not entertainment, why people gather to watch it.

Sibal replied that it is to demonstrate the vigour of the bull and the animal’s strength.

The bench also asked how is Jallikattu necessary for preservation of the native breed? It added that a counsel for one of the petitioners contended that every animal is entitled to dignity.

When Sibal asked dignity in what sense, the bench replied, “As long as you are alive, in whatever form you are alive in this world, you are entitled to be treated with dignitya.”

The bench also asked to bring on record evidence to support that it is a cultural practice.

The bench pointed out that some of the petitioners had submitted that when the law prohibits cruelty to animals, there cannot be an amending Act, which perpetuates cruelty.

Sibal said there are several sports in which a person gets injured or even killed.

The Tamil Nadu government, in a written response, had said the Jallikattu is not merely an act of entertainment, rather an event with great historic and cultural value.

In 2014, the apex court had said in its judgment that bulls cannot be used as performing animals either for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races.

The central law, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, was amended by Tamil Nadu to allow Jallikattu.

After hearing the daylong submissions, the top court scheduled the matter for further hearing on December 6.

20221201-220401

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