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Tamil Nadu's controversial Jallikattu is back after Centre lifts ban

By The Rediff News Bureau
Last updated on: January 08, 2016 12:19 IST
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The Narendra Modi government has lifted the ban on Jallikattu (bull taming) in Tamil Nadu.

Making the announcement, Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan tweeted: 'The Union government has made arrangements to allow Jallikattu in TN.'

'Union Minister of State for Environment, Forests and Climate Change Prakash Javdekar called me now to give the good news that arrangements to conduct Jallikattu in TN has been made,' he further tweeted.

Hours later, a government notification to this effect said: 'Bulls may be continue to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal, at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat in the manner by the customs of any community or practiced traditionally under the customs or as a part of culture, in any part of the country subject to the following conditions:

(i) such event shall take place in any Districtwhere it is being traditionally held annually, at such place explicitly permitted by the District Collector or the District Magistrate;

(ii) bullock cart race shall be organised on a proper track, which shall not exceed two kilometres. In case of Jallikattu,the moment the bull leaves the enclosure, it shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metre;

(iii) ensure that the bulls are put to proper testing by the authorities of the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department to ensure that they are in good physical condition to participate in the event and performance enhancement drugs are not administered to the bulls in any form; and (iv) ensure that the rights conferred upon the animals under section 3 and clause (a) and clause (m) of sub-section (1) of section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (59 of 1960) and five freedoms declared by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in its order dated 7th May, 2014 in civil appeal No 5387 of 2014 are fully protected during such events'.

Crackers were burst and sweets distributed in southern districts of Tamil Nadu to celebrate the news as the decision comes just ahead of the Pongal festival. Jallikattu also known Eruthazhuvuthal is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day.

The Animal Welfare Board of India had a few days ago advised the environment ministry not to overturn the Supreme Court judgement which currently bans Jallikattu, (bull races and bullfights) in the country.

Immediately after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals India complained about a recent statement made by Javadekar, promising to allow Jallikattu, the AWBI advised the ministry against any such action.

The AWBI's opinion with respect to events such as Jallikattu, bullock carts races, kambala, etc., and the cruelty perpetrated on animals forced to participate in the same is unchanged: They are illegal, and have been struck down by the Supreme Court as illegal and unconstitutional, said the advisory.

The age-old sport was banned by the Supreme Court on May 7, 2014, along with rackla racing (bullock cart racing) in Karnataka.

A division bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Misra had, in a detailed and elaborate order, struck down the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act 2009 which paved the way for conducting the sport in the state.

Inter alia the bench ruled that 'forcing a bull and keeping it in the waiting area and subjecting it to the scorching sun are not for the animal's wellbeing. Forcing and pulling the animal by a nose rope in to the closed, narrow enclosure called "vaadivasal" (meaning entry point in Tamil), subjecting it to all forms of torture, pain and suffering by forcing it to go in the arena and overpowering it in the arena by bull tamers are not for the well being of the animal".

The bench had further said, "The Animal Welfare Board of India (one of the petitioners in the SC against Jallikattu) had submitted with adequate proof and material how much cruelty was inflicted on the animals while conducting Jallikattu."

The bench added that Jallikattu organisers deprived the animals of their rights guaranteed under Section 3 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and said, "Perversity and sadism are writ large in the actions of the organisers of Jallikattu and the event is not meant for the wellbeing of the animal but for the pleasure and enjoyment of human beings".

On December 23, 2015, Tamil Nadu government had urged the Centre to introduce a bill to amend laws for its conduct.

It had also suggested a special Parliament session for the purpose or even promulgating an ordinance considering the "urgency" of the matter.

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had urged the Prime Minister to immediately direct the Ministry of Environment, to introduce a Bill to comprehensively and suitably amend relevant provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and that it had to be passed immediately to enable conduct of Jallikattu.

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