Why Did The Supreme Court Ban Jallikattu?

Posted on November 22, 2016

By Rahul Thapa

The SC has maintained a ‘locus standi‘ in its position on Jallikattu. Defined as the ‘bull-taming’ festival that is observed during the harvest festival of Pongal is also a sign of machismo where young men latch themselves on the hump of the bull to tame them. The tamed weak bulls are sent to farms to work, and the untamed stronger variants are sent to breed.

But the question is whether the act of animal cruelty is substantive in the case of Jallikattu. Unlike Spanish bullfighting festivals, there is no bodily harm and eventual death of the bull. Moreover, another question is whether the SC is exceeding its jurisdiction and impugning on Article 25 of the Indian constitution that deals with the freedom to practice one’s religion?

Meanwhile, there seems to be a tug of war between the Government and the SC on the issue too. The ancient sport is believed to have started during the Sangam Tamil period to bring prosperity and luck, and is now on a sticky wicket.

The SC had banned the sport in 2014 however subsequent protests in Tamil Nadu and the Central Government’s overtures brought the sport back not before the SC had again passed a directive on its ban. The SC judgement was on a prudent legal basis that wanted to prevent animal cruelty.

The question of invoking Article 25 the SC held no basis as Jallikattu was more of a harvest festival. Moreover, a sport that was organised mainly for the purpose of entertainment and at the expense of hurting animals had no significance to be challenged under this article.

Therefore giving Jallikattu an unhindered sports status will bring similar petitions to allow dog fights, snake and even cockfights from various sections each with their own justifications.

There is a need for sound reasoning required on the part of those who engage in the sport to think about the unnecessary suffering the bulls are subjected to and that too, in the name of entertainment and find a solution that harms nobody.

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Image source: Manu Manohar/Flickr

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