Questioning the Centre for its notification allowing use of bulls in events like Jallikattu, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said India cannot "import Roman gladiator type sport".
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R F Nariman said that animals may not have rights but humans cannot negate their obligation enshrined under the Constitution.
"We cannot import Roman Gladiator type sport here. One can use computer for indulging in bull fighting. Why tame bulls for it," the bench said.
It told Additional Solicitor General P S Narasimha, appearing for Centre, that the government cannot remove the very basis of the apex court's May 7, 2014 judgement by making a notification.
"How does the bull get tamed for entertainment? Can the bulls be contemplated for entertainment of human mind? Bulls are supposed to rest, why should they race," the bench observed while hearing a batch of pleas filed by some NGO's challenging the January 8 notification of the Centre.
The bench said, "Jallikattu sport itself is cruelty on animals. There is prohibition of cruelty. We have to show compassion to the animals. It is our constitutional obligation."
Narasimha contended that the government was empowered under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 to enlist animals to be used as performing ones.
Senior advocate Shekhar Naphade, appearing for Tamil Nadu, said when humans can run for marathon, why can bulls not be made to do so.
To this, the bench said "humans have a free will, but bulls are forced into it". It posted the matter for further hearing on November 26.
Jallikattu, also known Eruthazhuvuthal, is a bull-taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of the Pongal harvest festival.
The court in its 2014 judgement had said that bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country, and had banned their use across the country.
The Apex court had also earlier declared Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 as constitutionally void, being violative or Article 254(1) of the Constitution.
On January 8, the Centre had issued a notification lifting ban on Jallikattu in poll-bound Tamil Nadu with certain restrictions, which was challenged in the Apex court by Animal Welfare Board of India, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, a Bangalore-based NGO and others.
On July 26, the apex court had said that just because the bull-taming sport of Jallikattu was a centuries-old tradition, it cannot be justified.
The Apex court had said if the parties are able to convince the court that its earlier judgement was wrong, it may refer the matter to a larger bench.
The Supreme Court had on January 21 refused to re-examine its 2014 judgement banning use of bulls for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races across the country.
The apex court had earlier stayed January 8 notification.