Posted On 27/05/2014 By In Law for Animals With 2017 Views

Jallikattu Judgement: When the Supreme Court of India declared the rights of animals to be an issue of “Seminal Importance” (Part I)

The Supreme Court of India pronounced a landmark judgment in the matter titled “Animal Welfare Board of India Versus A. Nagaraja & Ors.”, and allied appeals and petitions, on the 7th of May, 2014. The use of bulls and bullocks in performances such as Jallikattu, bullock cart racing, etc., was banned.

In articles that will follow, we shall focus on the judgment itself, and how those of us that wish to, can use it as powerful precedent to help animals. Through this article we’re releasing, with permission, a part of the material that was before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, that perhaps prompted it to open its judgment in these terms :

“ We are, in these cases, concerned with an issue of seminal importance with regard to the Rights of Animals under our Constitution, laws, culture, tradition, religion and ethology, which we have to examine, in connection with the conduct of Jallikattu, Bullock-cart races etc. ….. ”

In the litigation that had spanned 7 years, the Supreme Court had, vide an order passed on 15th January, 2008, given elaborate directions so that jallikattu could be regulated, with safeguards for animals in place. The order passed by the Supreme Court can be seen HERE. One of the directions issued was that the Animal Welfare Board of India will appoint and authorize representatives to observe and videograph and compile and submit reports regarding the event. It is pursuant to this Supreme Court order of 15th January, 2008, that AWBI observers were allowed to witness the huge suffering inflicted on bulls during jallikattu, and the abuse they are subjected to.

This set of pictures, report, and videography by Dr. Manilal Valliyate, Animal Welfare Board of India observer, being released with this article with permission, pertain to 3 jallikattu events, conducted at Avanipuram on 14th January, 2013, at Palamedu on 15th January, 2013, and Alanganallur on 16th January, 2013 ; and were all placed before the Supreme Court of India.

Some of the documents before the Supreme Court
  • The investigation video can be seen here:

It will be apparent from all of these, that 5 years after the Apex Court itself tried to regulate jallikattu, the horrific abuse inflicted on the bulls was continuing.

In fact, the Judges, after elaborate consideration of data and various reports came to the conclusion that Jallikattu cannot be regulated, and that abuse is an unavoidable ingredient of any such event.

What is also relevant is that the State of Tamil Nadu had passed an enactment called the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act in the year 2009, which can be seen here. Despite the same, there was little or no ‘regulation’ of events aimed at protecting the animals forced to participate, and for the reasons stated in the judgment, the Supreme Court of India struck down the Tamil Nadu law.

The ‘news’ currently sought to be disseminated by many, is that Jallikattu bulls are being ‘sold for slaughter’ subsequent to the passing of the judgment. A historic judgment is sought to be assailed by vested interests, and by those who have not read it and considered its huge implications, and the impetus provided by it for animal rights. In fact, this is misinformation being actively propounded ; and what all of us need to keep in mind is that there exists an enactment known as the Tamil Nadu Animal Preservation Act, 1958, under which indiscriminate slaughter of bovines is an offence. If Jallikattu bulls are being sold for slaughter after the passing of the judgment, the penal provisions of the Tamil Nadu Animal Preservation Act, 1958 have stringently to be enforced. A reference to the same can be found here (at point number 22)

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