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Jallikattu, Kambala can go on in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka: SC

GS Paper 1/2

 Syllabus: Indian culture/Salient features of the Indian Constitution


Source: IE


Context: A five-judge Bench of the SC upheld the amendments made by TN, Maharashtra and Karnataka to The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act 1960, allowing bull-taming sports like Jallikattu, Kambala, and bullock-cart races.


What is Jallikattu/eruthazhuvuthal?

  • It is a bull-taming sport traditionally played in TN as part of the Pongal harvest festival and as a celebration of nature, of which cattle worship is a part.
  • However, it has long been contested over cruelty to animals and the bloody and dangerous nature of the sport.
Background of the case:
Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja 2014A two-judge Bench of the SC banned such sports including Jallikattu.

·        The apex court held “bovine sports” contrary to the PCA Act – fixes duties of persons in charge of animals and defines animal cruelty.

·        The PCA Act overrides the so-called tradition and culture and the Parliament must elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights (under Articles 14, 21).

MoEFCC notification, 2016It prohibited the “exhibition or training of bulls as performing animals”.

However, an exception specified that bulls might still be trained as performing animals at Jallikattu, according to the customs and culture of different communities.

TN amended the PCA Act in 2017·        This was done to allow Jallikattu in the state, to preserve the cultural heritage of TN, to ensure the survival and well-being of the native breeds of bulls, and to minimize cruelty to animals in the concerned sports

●       A batch of petitions were filed challenging the above exemption and the amendments, following which the SC referred the matter to the Constitution Bench, as the issue involved interpretation of the Constitution.

●       The Bench was tasked with deciding whether Jallikattu could be preserved as the cultural right of TN under Article 29(1) of the Constitution.

The recent verdict of the SC:
●       It overruled its 2014 ruling in ‘Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja’ and held that Jallikattu has a strong cultural component.

●       The amendments (to the PCA) were “valid legislations”, as these are not a piece of colourable legislation and that it relates to List III of the 7th Schedule to the Constitution [prevention of cruelty to animals].

●       The court also said that the 2017 amendment does not violate

○       Articles 51-A (g) and 51-A (h), which impose duties on Indian citizens to protect the environment and develop a scientific temper, humanism, spirit of inquiry, and reform, respectively.

○       Articles 14 (Right to Equality) and 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution.

●       However, the Jallikattu issue is “debatable” and must ultimately be decided by the Parliament, as the issue requires social and cultural analysis in greater detail.


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