No Jallikattu this Pongal, SC refuses to lift ban

RSTV Bureau
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Madurai: File photo showing participants trying to tame a bull during Jallikattu festival, organised as part of the Pongal festival, at Alanganallur near Madurai on Wednesday, Jan 13, 2014. The Supreme Court on Tuesday banned this year’s bull fighting ritual following angry protests from animal activists. PTI Photo

The Supreme Court has refused to lift the ban on Jallikattu or the popular bull-taming sport in Tamil Nadu. A bench comprising of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice NV Ramana said that they will not vacate the SC order that stayed the Centre’s notification lifting the ban.

The apex court order by which Centre’s notification was stayed doesn’t warrant any alteration, said the bench while explaining how it was not impressed with the argument that Jallikattu should be allowed under the strict supervision of the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, the bench was responding to fresh petitions filed by some residents of Tamil Nadu who had sought that the court vacate its order that stayed Centre’s notification.

In the fresh plea, the petitioners argued that the age-old cultural tradition of Jallikattu should be allowed to continue in Tamil Nadu.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court stayed the Centre’s notification that allowed Jallikattu to resume in Tamil Nadu.

“As an interim measure, we direct that there shall be stay of notification dated January 7, 2016 issued by Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF),” the same bench had said on Tuesday while hearing petitions by various animal rights groups.

Last week on January 8, a government notification lifted the four-year-old ban on Jallikattu in the poll-bound Tamil Nadu. This was then challenged by AWBI, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and a Bangalore-based NGO.

Tamil Nadu had celebrated Centre’s notification by bursting crackers and distributing sweets. Jallikattu also known Eruthazhuvuthal is played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day.

“…Central Government, hereby specifies that following animals shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animals with effect from the date of publication of this notification, namely bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, lions and bulls…Provided that bulls may be continued to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal, at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat in the manner by customs of any community or practiced traditionally,” the Centre’s notification had said.

However, when Centre lifted the ban with the notification, it also proposed a series of restrictions which the organisers had to abide by before conducting the sport.

The use of bulls in performances was banned by the UPA government in 2011 on the ground that the sport ended in cruelty to the animals.

(With inputs from PTI)