Constitution bench to hear plea against state law allowing Jallikattu

RSTV Bureau
Representative Image

Representative Image

The Supreme Court has referred the matters related to the bull-taming sport Jallikattu to a Constitution bench. The apex court had said on December 12 last year that it would refer to a five-judge constitution bench a batch of pleas challenging Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra laws allowing Jallikattu and bullock cart races.

On Friday, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice RF Nariman framed five questions to be adjudicated on by the Constitution bench.

“We have formulated five questions for the Constitution bench,” Justice Nariman said while pronouncing the order.

The larger bench would decide whether states have the “legislative competence” to make such laws on grounds, including that ‘Jallikattu’ and bullock cart racing fell under the cultural rights enshrined under Article 29(1) and can be protected constitutionally.

Jallikattu, also known Eruthazhuvuthal, is a bull-taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as part of the Pongal harvest festival.

Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have amended the central law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and allowed Jallikattu and bullock cart racing, respectively. The state laws have been challenged in the apex court.

Referring to the Article 25 (right to freedom of religion) and Article 29(1) (protection of cultural and educational rights) of the Constitution, the Supreme Court had earlier said they may not enable states to make such laws.

Animal rights body PETA had filed a plea in apex court challenging the state law that allowed the sport in the state.

PETA has assailed the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Bill 2017 passed by the state assembly on several grounds, including that it circumvented the apex court verdict holding the bull-taming sport as “illegal” in the state.

The petitioner also alleged that Jallikattu was a blood sport in which bulls were subjected to various types of cruelty.

The apex court had earlier dismissed the Tamil Nadu government’s plea seeking a review of the 2014 judgement banning the use of bulls for Jallikattu events in the state and bullock cart races across the country.

The court in its 2014 judgement had said bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country and had banned their use across the country.

(With inputs from PTI)