Jallikattu is brutal: Petitioners Argue Against Jallikattu in SC

Jallikattu is brutal: Petitioners Argue Against Jallikattu in SC

The Supreme Court heard a batch of petitions on November 30 challenging the constitutionality of laws allowing Jalikattu, Kambala, and bull-cart races in states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra. A five-judge Constitutional bench led by Justice KM Joseph and comprised of Justices Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy, and CT Ravi Kumar asked Senior Advocate Mr. Shyam Divan a question: "This court has observed that Jallikattu is brutal. So, the form in which the practise exists is cruel, not the practise itself. The reason why I ask this question is because in 2014, when Nagaraj came, the form was different. Now there is an amendment and rules have been brought in and things have changed. Now, once the mechanism is put in place, anyone who is not following the rules is violating it. Penal action is embedded in the statute. You've now presented reports.Even if those reports are taken at face value it's the execution that's the problem. So, is the rule bad or the manner in which it is being followed is bad? We have to test the scheme and not the ground reality."

On the aspect of Articles 14, 19, and 21 rights arising qua the petitioners, Justice Joseph asked Mr. Divan, "See how the law has developed as far as 14 is concerned. Milestone is Maneka Gandhi decision. All of this is founded on a triangular approach - 14, 19 & 21. They are interconnected. For that you will need to have a premise on Article 19 as well."

Counsel for the petitioners from the state of Maharashtra, where the state government's impugned amendments allowing bullock cart races in the state are being challenged, began his submissions before the court today by first pointing out the differences between the Maharashtra impugned legislation and that of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. "I am going to tell your lordships what the difference between Maharashtra legislation and Jallikattu is," he said.

The differences he pointed out were namely:

  1. The contested legislation in Tamil Nadu was enacted in 2009. It was later called into question. It was declared unconstitutional in Nagaraj. However, there was no such act in Maharashtra. The contested act was first introduced in 2017.
  2. The purpose of the Principle Act is to prevent "unnecessary pain or suffering." The word "unnecessary" is not used in Section 3(2) of the Amendment Act; instead, the phrase "pain or suffering" is used. Although 3(2) begin with a non-obstante clause, the effect is mitigated by the absence of the word "unnecessary." The Maharashtra amendment reintroduces Section 11 of the principle act, which has been softened by the absence of the word "unnecessary."

Initially, petitions were filed to quash and set aside a notification issued by the Union of India on January 7, 2016, and to direct the concerned states to comply with the Apex Court's decision in Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja and Ors. (2014) 7 SCC 547. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, was passed while the case was pending. Following that, the writ petitions were amended to seek the repeal of the aforementioned Amendment Act. The Supreme Court then referred the case to a constitutional bench to decide whether Tamil Nadu can retain Jallikattu as a cultural right under Article 29(1) of the Constitution, which guarantees citizens' cultural rights protection. A division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Rohinton Nariman felt the writ petition revolving around Jallikattu raised significant questions relating to constitutional interpretation and referred the matter to the constitution bench with five questions to decide on in addition to those brought up in the writ petitions.

Case Title: Animal Welfare Board of India versus Union of India and others and connected cases

Citation: W.P. (C) No. 23/2016

Link: https://main.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2016/1216/1216_2016_3_501_40263_Order_30-Nov-2022.pdf


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