(GS2: Government policies and interventions)
A five-member Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court (SC) is going to announce its verdict on a batch of petitions seeking to strike down a 2017 Tamil Nadu law that protects Jallikattu*.
*Jallikattu is a bull-taming sport.
The festival is a celebration of nature, and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, of which cattle-worship is part.
It is a violent sport: and there is only one winner, man or bull.
Traditional event in which a bull such as the Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds is released into a crowd of people, and multiple human participants attempt to grab the large hump on the bull’s back with both arms and hang on to it while the bull attempts to escape.
Participants hold the hump for as long as possible, attempting to bring the bull to a stop. In some cases, participants must ride long enough to remove flags on the bull’s horns.
- SC imposed ban on Jallikattu through a judgment (Animal Welfare Board of India vs A. Nagaraja) in May 2014.
- However, in January 2017, people demanded the Central and State governments to come up with a law that would annul the Supreme Court’s ban and allow jallikattu.
- This led to the enactment of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Ordinance 2017. It was later replaced by a bill adopted by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.
- However, some people moved against this law to SC and this issue was referred to a Constitution Bench.
- Jallikattu is both a religious and cultural event celebrated by the people of the State- Art 29
- It is centuries-old and symbolic of a community’s identity which can be regulated and reformed rather than completely banning,
- Any ban on such a practice would be viewed as hostile to culture and against the sensitivities of the community,
- It is a tool for conserving this precious indigenous breed of livestock and does not violate principles of compassion and humanity.
- Liberty is inherent in every living being, whether it be in any form of life- Art 48
- There were various media reports about deaths and injuries caused to humans as well as bulls which had taken place in several districts of the State while conducting jallikattu.
- Extreme cruelty is inflicted on the animals.
- There was no material to justify jallikattu as a part of culture.
- The critics had equated the event with practices such as sati and dowry, which were also once recognised as part of culture and stopped through legislation.
- The court’s venture must be to independently construe Article 21, to see whether a finding that the right partakes freedom to live in a society free of animal cruelty fits with India’s larger constitutional design.