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No illegality in bullfight, cart race: ex-judge Katju

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New Delhi : Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju on Saturday said he sees no illegality in the notification issued by the government on January 7, relaxing ban on the “Jallikattu”, a sort of fight between bull and men, and on the traditional bullock cart race, but with riders to prevent extreme cruelty to the animals.

Noting that Jallikattu is an ancient sport of Tamil Nadu, being mentioned in the Tamil epic ” Silappathiharam ” and other works of Sangam literature, he says: “We must respect the culture of Tamil Nadu. We have a federal Constitution, and federalism means catering to regional aspirations, and respecting the culture of different people in India. That is necessary if we want to keep the country united.”

In his post on thewire.in , he has discussed the announcement of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) to challenge this notification in Court on the ground that its prior approval was not taken before issuing the notification, banking upon the Supreme Court”s judgment banning “Jallikattu.” The judgment says the Centre had accepted AWBI”s advice even while th court was seized of the matter and so it cannot take a contrary stand without consulting it.


Justice Katju says: “In my opinion this observation has to be construed in a proper manner in its context, and not mechanically.” He says a perusal of the conditions incorporated in the notification shows that the objection of the Animal Welfare Board that no unnecessary cruelty is inflicted on the bull is taken care of. “The Animal Welfare Board can monitor a Jallikattu along with district officials, and immediately get it stopped if extreme cruelty to the animal is being inflicted. What more does it want?” The former judge said section 22(ii) of the Act does not expressly require prior approval of the AWBI before a notification is issued under that provision. The casual observation of the Supreme Court in para 40 of its judgment in Animal Welfare Board vs. Nagaraj must therefore not be read either as a Euclid’s formula, or out of context. He explained that the judgment actually cites various cruelties inflicted on bulls in many Jallikattus like stabbing it, cutting off its tail or pouring irritants in its eyes. Hence, if a Jallikattu is held by avoiding such extreme cruelty, the ratio of the judgment will not apply.

 “It may be noted that section 11 uses the words ”unnecessary cruelty,” which should be interpreted to mean not any kind of cruelty but extreme cruelty. After all, some cruelty is done to most animals, e.g. horses in  horse riding (since one has to tap it in the belly to make it move, or pull the reins at times, which obviously causes some pain), or bullocks ( which have to be sometimes whipped when used in bullock carts), or dogs, elephants, etc. while training them.

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