Why is this in the news?

A Supreme Court Constitution Bench postponed for decision a bundle of petitions seeking to overturn a Tamil Nadu statute that safeguards Jallikattu, saying that the bull-taming sport is a cultural legacy of the state and is protected under Article 29 (1) of the Constitution.

While these activities may be firmly ingrained in specific groups' cultures and customs, they are frequently contentious and have been challenged by animal welfare organizations.

Describe Jallikattu.

  • Jallikattu is a prominent traditional sport in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
  • In this sport, a wild bull is let loose into a throng of spectators, and the competitors try to ride it for as long as they can by grabbing its hump or taming it.
  • During the Tamil harvest festival of Pongal, it is observed in January.

What Issues are Related to These?

  • The main issue was whether Jallikattu should be protected under Article 29 of the Constitution as a collective cultural right (1).
  • A basic right to defend people's rights to education and culture is Article 29 (1), which Part III of the Constitution protects.
  • The court considered whether the laws genuinely ensured "the survival and well-being of the local breed of bulls" or if they merely "perpetuate cruelty to animals."
  • The new Jallikattu legislation was "related" to Article 48 of the Constitution, which commanded the state to make an effort to manage agricultural and animal husbandry on contemporary and scientific lines, according to the opinions of the parties heard before the five-judge Bench.
  • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960's goal of "prevention" of animal cruelty was another topic that the Constitution Bench examined, along with Karnataka and Maharashtra's legislation governing Jallikattu and bullock-cart races.

In what ways do Associated Legal Interventions occur?

  • Bulls were added to the Center's list of animals not allowed to be trained or publicly displayed in 2011.
  • Based on animal cruelty, the Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja case brought before the Supreme Court in May 2014 resulted in a ruling banning Jallikattu.
  • The Jallikattu case was sent to a Constitution Bench in 2018 and is now waiting there.
  • The issue is the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act of 2017 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017, which reopened the doors for the practice of the well-known bull-taming sport under the guise of culture and tradition despite a 2014 Supreme Court ban.

What justifications were offered for and against Jallikattu?

Argument in favour of:

  • Jallikattu is a religious and cultural festival enjoyed by the people of Tamil Nadu, and its influence transcends caste and creed lines.
  • The State administration stated, "A tradition that is centuries old and significant of a community's identity may be controlled and altered as the human race progresses rather than being fully extinguished."
  • It was stated that a prohibition on this practice would be seen as being "hostile to culture and against the sensibilities of the community."
  • The government defended jallikattu as "a method for protecting this valuable indigenous breed of livestock," claiming that the traditional event did not contradict compassion and humanity ideals.
  • It said that the event's historical and cultural significance and interweaving with the sociocultural environment were being taught in the high school curriculum so that "the significance is perpetuated beyond generations."

Arguments in Opposition:

  • The petitioners contended that animal life was closely linked to human life. Liberty was "inherent in every living creature, whether in any form of existence," as the Constitution acknowledged.
  • The Tamil Nadu law was enacted to avoid the Supreme Court's prohibition on jallikattu.
  • Humans and bulls have died and been injured in numerous areas throughout the state while participating in jallikattu.
  • The petitioners argued that some tamers leapt on bulls, contrary to Tamil Nadu's claims.
  • The animals were subjected to "severe brutality," they claim.
  • There needed to be more information to support jallikattu as a cultural practice.
  • Critics compared the event to customs like sati and dowry, which were initially accepted as part of the culture but were later prohibited by the government.

What is the status of such sports in other states?

  • Karnataka also approved legislation to protect a similar sport known as Kambala.
  • Except in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, where bull-taming and racing are still practised, these activities are prohibited in all other states, including Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Maharashtra, as a result of the Supreme Court's 2014 prohibition ruling.

Source: TH 


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