The Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday pulled up the Andhra Pradesh government and directed it to ensure that no cockfights are held in the state during Sankranti this year.
The HC asked the state to follow the Supreme Court's directions and constitute a joint Inspection team to prevent cockfights, while also directing West Godavari's Superintendent of Police and District Collector to personally monitor the situation on the ground.
The court was irked that several Ministers and politicians in the state had openly stood in support of holding cockfights, directly in violation of the Supreme Court's orders.
According to reports, the HC also told the state government that its DGP and chief secretary will be held personally responsible if such activities occur.
“If you can’t implement the law, tell us. We will select an officer and direct you to appoint him to deal with these crimes,” the bench was quoted as saying.
Despite the Supreme Court upholding the Hyderabad High Court's order prohibiting cockfights, organisers in the state seem to pay no heed to the ban, as they are going ahead with arrangements for the smooth conduct of the sport in the twin Godavari and Krishna districts.
Last week, CM Chandrababu Naidu had warned his party lawmakers to stay away from cockfights and also told them that defying his order will cost them their MLA, MP tickets in the coming elections.
The sport, is a 'tradition' for many people living in rural areas of coastal Andhra, and extensive betting is also done, with several crore rupees exchanging hands every year.
The fight is usually between two birds, specially bred for the purpose, with the match ending when one bird dies or is fatally injured. In many cases, three to four-inch knives are attached to the cocks' legs, making the fight bloodier, as hundreds gather to watch.
Cockfighting is banned under the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960, and the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974.