On Friday morning, Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan came bearing 'good news' that the Union Government had made arrangements for bull-taming sport jallikattu to be conducted in Tamil Nadu. There was increasing pressure from jallikattu groups in south TN political parties on the government to bypass the SC verdict banning it, and allow it to be conducted.
Legal experts and members of the Animal Welfare Board of India had been of the view that any move by the government challenging the SC order banning the sport could lead to serious legal implications. Until two days ago, it was considered highly unlikely that it would happen.
So how did the government solve the legal issue? The gazette notification which you can read here explains it.
The executive order of the government now lists bulls, amongst other animals, as not to be “exhibited or trained as performing animal” with the exception being “at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat in the manner by the customs of any community or practiced traditionally under the customs or as a part of culture”.
Bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and lions are also a part of this list. In effect, the gazette says that it is not allowed to use these animals as 'performers' unless it is being done in the name of 'culture' through specific events.
There are however the following conditions.
1.The event shall take place in districts where it is being traditionally held annually with permission from the District Collector or the District Magistrate
2.Bullock cart race shall be organised on a proper track, which shall not exceed two kilometres. In case of Jallikattu, the moment the bull leaves the enclosure, it shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metres
3.Bulls must be put to proper testing by the authorities of the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department to ensure that they are in good physical condition to participate in the event and performance enhancement drugs are not administered to the bulls in any form
4.Ensure that the rights conferred upon the animals under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and five freedoms declared by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order dated May 7, 2014 are fully protected during such events
5. Jallikattu or bullock cart races shall be duly monitored by the District Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and State Animal Welfare Board or the District Authorities as the case may be, ensuring that no unnecessary pain or suffering is inflicted or caused, in any manner, whatsoever, during the course of such events, or in preparation thereof.
But will this pass the test of law? We will know soon. Sources in the Animal Welfare Board of India have told TNM that they will take a decision on how to deal with the order legally once the board convenes, and they are likely to challenge this in court.