New Delhi: In a blow to Tamil Nadu government’s efforts to get top court’s nod for ‘Jallikattu’, the Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the state’s plea seeking recall of its 2014 verdict banning the bull-fights, holding that the practice amounted to cruelty to the animals.
Dismissing the Tamil Nadu government’s plea seeking the restoration of Jallikattu during Pongal festival, the bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman brushed aside the state government’s argument that the 3,500-year-old tradition was rooted in religion.
Rejecting the argument, the bench, in its orders dismissing the review petition, said that there was no connection or connectivity of Jallikattu with religion.
“Such a concept is alien to the concept of freedom of religion” guaranteed under Article 25 of the constitution, the bench said in its order.
As senior counsel Shekhar Naphade appearing for Tamil Nadu told the court that Jallikattu was a “socio-cultural religious event associated with the harvesting of the crop”, the bench said: “It is not a religious practice. It has nothing to do with religion… (By saying that it was religious) we are defaming the framers of the constitution.”
Holding that the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 was repugnant to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960, the top court by its May 7, 2014 verdict had banned the bull-fighting, saying bulls could not be used as performing animals, either for the Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races.
The court by its 2014 verdict had also urged the Union government to accord constitutional status to animal rights.
The court also rejected the Tamil Nadu’s position that the state law on Jallikattu was not repugnant to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, as the law covered a “very very narrow space” not occupied by the central law.
Having dismissed the Tamil Nadu government’s plea seeking the recall of the May 7, 2014, judgment, the bench said that the hearing on the batch of petitions challenging the January 7, 2016, notification would take place on December 1.
Taking away the very basis of 2014 judgment, January 7 notification permitted the use of bulls for Jallikattu and cart races.
In the last hearing of the matter on November 9, the court had said that though animals may not have rights but they can’t be subjected to cruelty by the people and observed that what is embedded in the Constitution and the statute could not be taken away by a notification.