Jallikattu: cultural practice or cruelty?

Source: The post is based on the article “Jallikattu: cultural practice or cruelty?” published in The Hindu on 5th January 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Governance

Relevance: issues associated with Jallikattu

News: Petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court to strike down a 2017 Tamil Nadu law that protects Jallikattu. SC will give the verdict in a few days.

What is the issue?

SC imposed ban on Jallikattu through a judgment (Animal Welfare Board of India vs A. Nagaraja) in May 2014.

However, in January 2017, people demanded the Central and State governments to come up with a law that would annul the Supreme Court’s ban and allow jallikattu.

This led to the enactment of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Ordinance 2017. It was later replaced by a bill adopted by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly.

However, some people moved against this law to SC and this issue was referred to a Constitution Bench.

How is the SC examining the case?

The court is examining the case from various perspective.

  1. whether jallikattu should be granted constitutional protection as a collective cultural right under Article 29 (1) which protects the educational and cultural rights of citizens.
  2. Whether the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act of 2017 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017 promote cruelty to animals or ensure the survival and well-being of the native breed of bulls.
  3. Whether jallikattu and bullock-cart race laws of Karnataka and Maharashtra would serve the objective of prevention of cruelty to animals under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960.

Moreover, SC in 2014 struck down the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009, which had allowed jallikattu because the bulls were tortured to the hilt in the process of performing for the event.

SC at that time relied on Article 48 of the Constitution which urged the state to endeavour to organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines to check the validity of the law.

What were the arguments presented for and against Jallikattu?

For – a) jallikattu is both a religious and cultural event celebrated by the people of the State and its influence extends beyond the caste and creed, b) it is centuries-old and symbolic of a community’s identity which can be regulated and reformed rather than completely banning, c) any ban on such a practice would be viewed as hostile to culture and against the sensitivities of the community, d) it is a tool for conserving this precious indigenous breed of livestock and does not violate principles of compassion and humanity, e) children are also being taught in school about the significance of the culture to preserve it beyond generations.

Againsta) Liberty is necessary for every living being, an aspect that had been recognised by the Constitution, b) there are deaths and injuries caused to humans as well as bulls in the event, c) animals face extreme cruelty and there is no evidence to justify jallikattu as a part of culture.

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