SC upholds validity of Tamil Nadu law allowing 'Jallikattu'

A five-judge Constitution bench pronounced the verdict

Jallikattu in Madurai A jallikattu event in Madurai | AP

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the constitutional validity of state laws allowing traditional bull-taming sport 'Jallikattu', Kambala and bull-cart racing in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra respectively. A five-judge Constitution bench of Justices K.M. Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and C.T. Ravikumar pronounced the verdict on Thursday.

The Constitution bench dismissed a batch of petitions challenging the state amendments of the central law, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

The Constitution Bench observed that these laws cannot be construed as "colourable legislations" and that the State legislature had the legislative power to make amendments as per Entry 17 to List II of the Seventh Schedule, reported LiveLaw. 

"We are satisfied on materials that in Jallikattu is going in TN for last one century. Whether this as part of integral part of Tamil culture requires greater detail, which exercise judiciary cannot undertake...When legislature has declared that jallikattu is part of cultural hertiage of TN state, judiciary cannot take a different view. Legislature is best suited to decide that," the bench further observed, reported LiveLaw.

'Jallikattu', a popular sport in Tamil Nadu is held as part of the Pongal harvest festival.

Petitions including one filed by animal rights body PETA have challenged the state law that allowed the bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu.

Earlier, the Tamil Nadu government has defended the sport and said that there was no cruelty on the bulls in 'Jallikattu'.

“This is an incorrect notion that an activity, which is in nature of a sport or entertainment or amusement, cannot have a culture value,” the state had said. The state in its affidavit said that 'Jallikattu' is an “event with great historic, cultural and religious value.”

Earlier the apex court had set aside the petitions against the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, to a larger bench. The bench had frame five questions relating to interpretation of the Constitution.

The top court has said that a larger bench would decide whether state have “legislative competence” to make such laws on grounds.

The SC had observed that 'Jallikattu' cannot be termed as a blood sport as nobody is using any weapon and blood is only incidental.

"Because there is death does not mean it is a blood sport. I don't suggest that people who are going to participate and climb onto the bulls are going there in order to extract blood in that event. People are not going to kill the animal. Blood may be an incidental thing," the bench observed, reported PTI.

Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra has amended the central law, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and allowed the Jallikattu and bullock-cart racing respectively. Challenging the state laws, a petition was filed in the top courts.

Earlier, in its 2014 judgment, the apex court said that bulls cannot be used as performing animals either in 'Jallikattu' or bullock-cart races and banned their use for these purposes across the country.

(With PTI inputs) 

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