Today, the Constitution bench dismissed a batch of petitions challenging the Constitutionality of laws allowing Jallikattu, bull-cart racing, and Kambala in states such as Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Tamil Nadu. In addition, the bench also disagreed with the 2014 judgment of the Animal Welfare Board of India vs. A. Nagaraja and Ors. delivered by the Supreme Court, which banned Jallikatu stating “it is not a cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu”. The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court includes Justice Aniruddha Bose, Justice CT Ravikumar, Justice KM Joseph, Justice Hrishikesh Roy, and Justice Ajay Rastogi. While giving the judgment, the bench observed that “We are satisfied that Jallikatu is going in Tamil Nadu for last one century. Whether this is part of integral part of Tamil culture requires greater detail, which exercise judiciary cannot undertake…When the legislature has declared that Jallikatu is part of cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu state, judiciary cannot take a different view. Legislature is best suited to decide that.”
During the hearing today, the bench heard petitions related to the judgment A Nagaraja which prohibited Jallikatu and other similar activities in Tamil Nadu. The pleas also sought quashing of amendments to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act by the states such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka for allowing the conduct of animal sport. The bench opined that “In A Nagaraja, the sport was held to attract the restrictions under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, because of the manner in which it was practiced. The amendment Act and rules substantially minimize pain and suffering to animals.” The top Court also determined that in spite of cruelty in Jallikatu, it cannot be addressed as a blood sport because nobody was using any weapon. It added, “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 Constitution bench further stated that “In our opinion, TN Amendment Act does not go contrary to Articles 51A (g) and (j) and does not violate Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.” The bench stated that the state’s acts are legally valid and directed them to ensure the safety and protection of animals under the law.