Bull-taming sport stayed, Jaya seeks an Ordinance

New Delhi : Jallikattu, one of the oldest bull-taming sports in the world, will not be played this year during Pongal in Tamil Nadu, with the Supreme Court on Tuesday staying the Centre’s notification lifting ban on the controversial game as an interim measure.

The court rejected the plea of Ministry of Environment and Tamil Nadu that Jallikattu is part of the ancient tradition and should not be stopped as there were enough safeguards in Centre’s notification.

A battery of senior lawyers, including K K Venugopal, Anand Grover, C A Sundaram and Siddharth Luthra sought an interim stay on the Centre’s notification citing relevant portions of  an earlier apex court judgment and said that in the 21st century an animal cannot be subjected to cruelty in the name of culture and traditions.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, opposed the plea saying no fundamental rights of any of the petitioners had been violated and, moreover, the notification provides for measures to ensure that no bulls are subjected to any kind of cruelty. “Jallikattu is not a bull fight of Spain where either the bull or the matador dies,” Rohatgi said, adding that the taming of bull in this sport is done without any instrument or weapon.

“In this Jallikattu, a man may die but the bull can’t,” he contended, adding that the court has to balance culture and tradition.

If there is something wrong with a sport, then wrongs should be corrected instead of banning the sport, the Attorney General pointed out, referring to the findings of the Lodha panel on cricket.

The bench, however, remained unimpressed and granted interim stay on the notification and asked the Centre and various states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Gujarat to file their responses within four weeks.

The decision to allow Jallikattu along with bullock cart races in other parts of the country had come through a government notification despite strong objections by animal rights groups.

JAYA DEMANDS ORDINANCE: Upset over the Supreme Court staying the conduct of Jallikattu, a cross-section of people in Tamil Nadu staged demonstrations even as politicians cried hoarse over the move.

Incidentally, the BJP, which until recently was hailed for facilitating the conduct of Jallikattu by exempting bulls to be used in the taming sport, drew much flak on Wednesday. Local political party leaders accused the ruling BJP at the Centre of deliberately amending an Environment Ministry notification knowing pretty well that it won’t stand legal scrutiny. They felt the Modi Government should have gone in for a Parliamentary legislation to legitimise the sport.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has written to Prime Minister Modi seeking his intervention on the issue. Stating that arrangements were underway to conduct Jallikattu on the basis of the Environmental Ministry’s notification of January 7, she said, with the Pongal festivities commencing from January 14, the public in rural areas is eagerly looking forward to the conduct of Jallikattu as part of the traditional festivities.

“It is very important that the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu, who have a deep attachment to the conduct of the traditional event of Jallikattu, are respected, she has said.  DMK president M Karunanidhi also urged the Centre to take legal measures to ensure that Jallikattu was conducted this year.

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