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  India   Supreme Court: Can’t allow Jallikattu as means of entertainment

Supreme Court: Can’t allow Jallikattu as means of entertainment

Published : Nov 10, 2016, 2:32 am IST
Updated : Nov 10, 2016, 2:32 am IST

Jallikattu (taming of the bull) is impermissible in Tamil Nadu as ‘bull’ can’t be used as a tool for entertainment for the human beings by inflicting cruelty, the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday.


Jallikattu (taming of the bull) is impermissible in Tamil Nadu as ‘bull’ can’t be used as a tool for entertainment for the human beings by inflicting cruelty, the Supreme Court observed on Wednesday.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Rohinton Nariman made this oral observation during the hearing of petitions filed by animal rights activists, Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, the Animal Welfare Board and others challenging the Centre’s notification.


The January 7, 2016, notification permitted Jallikattu and bullock-cart races by excluding ‘bull’ in the list of ‘performing animals’ under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The animals mentioned the list can’t be used for any performance or entertainment and by removing ‘bull’, from this list the Centre indirectly allowed Jallikattu. At the outset, senior counsel Shekar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu submitted that the petition seeking review of the 2014 judgment banning ‘Jallikattu’ should be heard first before these petitions are taken up. The bench after an enquiry with the ‘Registry’ told the counsel that the review petition is under defect.


Additional solicitor general P.S. Narasimha, appearing for the Centre, justified the notification and said bull is not a performing animal and Jallikattu is not a performance but a sport to test the valour and strength of the participants.

Apart from being a part of Tamil culture and heritage,Jallikattu is also integral to the religious beliefs of village communities to mark harvest festival. Jallikattu is not an entertainment as the object was welfare and maintenance of bulls which is part of Tamil culture. He said sufficient guidelines had been formulated to ensure that bulls are not subjected to any cruelty and no injury shall be inflicted on the bulls.


Justice Misra, however, questioned the Centre for allowing Jallikattu and asked “how can you allow bull to be a source of entertainment for human beings. Jallikattu is impermissible as it violates the provisions of PCA Act and the Constitution. In view of the cruelties inflicted, nothing of this nature is permissible. There is a dichotomy. On the one hand you want compassion towards cow, on the other hand you want to use bull as a tool for entertainment for human mind. If we go by constitutional principles of compassion, such a contradiction cannot be permitted. Even if you say that Jallikattu is a sport, it is not permissible. You better play computer games for entertainment.”


Justice Nariman intervened and said “By this notification you (government) has removed the basis of the 2014 judgment banning jallikattu. You want to allow it without imposing cruelty to the animal. How such a contradiction be allowed. Prima facie the amended provision seems to be ultra vires the PCA Act.”

Senior counsel Abhishek Singvi and others appearing for animal welfare board questioned the notification and said it violated the 2014 judgment.

When ASG Narasimha said the 2014 judgment was based on the premise that animals have a right, which is not correct, Justice Misra retorted “there is negation of a right to make this kind of entertainment. By saying that you have imposed certain conditions for conducting Jallikattu, you {centre} have hurt the statute and the Constitution. Why should bulls participate in a race for man’s entertainment.”


Counsel Naphade asked the court “when marathon race is permitted, why can’t bulls race be allowed. Are the so-called rights of animals higher than the rights of human beings.”

Justice Misra replied “in a marathon race, you participate on your own will, but in Jallikattu bulls are forced to participate against their will as if slaves were treated in 16th century. That is why we say Jallikattu is impermissible in law.”

The Bench, however, agreed to hear Tamil Nadu’s review petition first before proceeding further in the present batch of petitions and directed that the matter be listed for further hearing on November 16.

Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi