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Centre courts contempt: Permits Jallikattu, ignores SC ban

In a notification issued on 7 January, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, has suggested that bulls may 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.

The notification imposes four conditions for holding the events.

These include obtaining explicit permission by the District Collector or the District Magistrate by the organizers, taming of bull once it leaves the enclosure, within a radial distance of 15 metre, ensuring that the bulls are in good physical condition to participate in the event and that performance enhancement drugs are not administered to them in any form, and ensuring 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 and five freedoms declared by the Supreme Court in its order dated 7 May 2014 are fully protected.

In addition, the notification asks the district authorities to ensure that no unnecessary pain or suffering is inflicted or caused, in any manner, whatsoever, during the course of such events, or in preparation thereof.

The notification is surprisingly silent on the crucial part of Supreme Court’s 7 May 2014 order in Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) vs A Nagaraja & Others.

In this judgment written by Justice KS Radhakrishnan, (sitting with Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose), the Supreme Court held that bulls cannot be used as a performing animals for jallikattu and bullock-cart race, since they are basically draught and pack animals, not anatomically designed for such performances.

The Supreme Court declared that rights guaranteed to the Bulls under Sections 3 and 11 of PCA Act read with Articles 51A(g) and (h) of the Constitution, cannot be taken away or curtailed, except under sections 11 (3) and 28 of PCA Act.

The court also declared that the five freedoms, referred to earlier be read into Sections 3 and 11 of PCA Act, be protected and safeguarded by the States, Central Government, Union Territories, MoEF and AWBI

Chapter 7.1.2 of the guidelines of OIE, recognizes five internationally recognized freedoms for animals, such as:

Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition, freedom from fear and distress; freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; freedom from pain, injury and disease; and freedom to express normal patterns of behavior. OIE is World Health Organisation of Animal Health, of which India is a member, and it acts as the international reference organization for animal health and animal welfare.

While the notification refers to sections 3 and 11 of PCA, and the five freedoms enjoyed by the animals, it is silent on the court’s explicit holding in Paragraph 77 which said as follows: “We, therefore, hold that AWBI is right in its stand that Jallikattu, bullock-cart race and such events per se violate sections 3, 11(1)(a) and 11(1)(m) (ii) of PCA Act and hence we uphold the notification dated 11 July 2011 issued by the Central Government, consequently, Bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for the Jallikattu events or Bullock-cart Races in the State of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country.”

According to reports, AWBI is likely to seek a stay of the notification from the Supreme Court.

Photo by lamkarna.

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