“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),” a bench comprising justices Dipak Misra and N V Ramana said while hearing petitions by various animal rights groups.
The bench has also issued notice to the MoEF and Tamil Nadu and sought its reply within four weeks. The apex court acted on petitions filed by various bodies including Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) seeking to strike down Centre’s notification.
The Supreme Court’s decision was lauded by animal group activists.
“The Supreme Court’s stay, which comes as a birthday gift for PETA on our 16th anniversary, is a partial victory for sensitive bulls who will be spared cruelties such as being deliberately disoriented by being given substances like alcohol and having their tails painfully broken joint by joint and bitten for Jallikattu or races. The Court’s move will also spare countless people from being hurt or killed at such events this year. PETA will continue its fight to protect bulls from abuse until the Supreme Court confirms once again that spectacles such as Jallikatu and bull races have no place in civilised society,” said PETA India Chief Executive Officer Poorva Joshipura.
The notification lifting the ban on Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu during Pongal was challenged by AWBI, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and a Bangalore-based NGO.
Earlier during the day, a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur referred the petitions to the present bench as one of the judges, Justice Banumathi who hails from Tamil Nadu, recused himself from hearing the batch of petitions.
On January 8, the government notification lifted the four-year-old ban on Jallikattu in the poll-bound Tamil Nadu.
Tamil Nadu had celebrated 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 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)