The Constitution Bench has been asked to decide whether states can claim protection under Article 29 of the Constitution.

Is jallikattu a cultural right SC refers matter to Constitution BenchPTI
news Jallikattu Tuesday, December 12, 2017 - 17:01

The Supreme Court on Tuesday referred to a Constitution bench a batch of petitions challenging Tamil Nadu’s Jallikattu Act permitting the bull-taming sport.

The Constitution Bench has been asked to decide whether jallikattu is a cultural right, and whether states can claim protection under Article 29 of the Constitution – which ensures protection of interests of minorities, reported Bar and Bench.

Ashok Bagariya for Hindustan Times reported that while referring the matter to a larger bench, the apex court raised three questions

1. Whether the Tamil Nadu government had the legislative competence to make amendments and bring in a new law,

2. Whether the object of the new jallikattu law is in consonance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and

3. Whether the state can claim cultural rights.

 Animal rights group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and others had challenged the Tamil Nadu government’s Jallikattu Act, claiming that it violated earlier court orders and that the sport was cruel to bulls.

On January 23, the Tamil Nadu Assembly unanimously passed the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Bill, 2017.

The state law amended six sections of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and exempts jallikattu from the purview of penalty under rules for the list of performing animals. Stating that jallikattu plays a pivotal role in preserving and promoting the culture and tradition in large parts of the state of Tamil Nadu, the law also says that the sport is vital for the “survival and continuance” of native breeds of bulls.

The law was made after a massive agitation launched by pro-jallikattu supporters in different parts of the state in January demanding that the Supreme Court-ordered ban on the bull-taming sport be reversed.

The Supreme Court had banned jallikattu in May 2014. The court held that bulls cannot be used as performing animals either for jallikattu or for bullock cart races anywhere in the country. Following this the central government had passed a notification exempting Jallikattu from the law, which was later stayed by the apex court.     

The protests in Tamil Nadu began at Alanganallur in Madurai, that was once home to one of the largest jallikattu events. It then spread to other parts of the state including Chennai’s Marina Beach, fuelled by social media groups urging students and the youth to take to the street to demand that the Supreme Court ordered ban on the sport be reversed.


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