New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday revoked its ban and permitted jallikattu (bull fight) as part of Pongal festivities after Tamil Nadu gave an assurance that the animals would not be tortured and steps would be taken to prevent injuries to participants and spectators.
A three-Judge Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal passed the interim order on an application filed by Tamil Nadu seeking modification of the January 11 order declining to grant permission to hold jallikattu festival in the State.
In its order the Bench said, “We do not approve of all the reasons given by the State of Tamil Nadu for modifying the order. However, it is pointed out by the Additional Solicitor-General appearing for the State that this is a part of the religious festival of Pongal and villages have been celebrating the same from time immemorial. It has been submitted that extreme care and precautions will be taken by the district authorities and no harm or injuries would be caused to the citizens, spectators, participants or the animals.”
The order further said, “The State has submitted guidelines for the conduct of jallikattu. The State shall ensure that the said guidelines are fully followed. Any organisation or group intending to conduct jallikattu shall inform in writing the Collector of the respective district or Deputy Collector of the sub-district at least three days prior to the event and secure permission. The district administration shall take all precautions to ensure that the animals are not tortured or subjected to cruel treatment. They shall also take necessary steps for the safety of the spectators and participants.”
The order said that the entire event should be videographed and the Collector concerned should give a report within two weeks to this court.
Earlier, ASG Gopal Subramaniam submitted that a ban on the 400-year-old traditional event would hurt people’s religious sentiments. He said a veterinary doctor would certify before the event that the animal was not drugged and that there was no cruelty.
The State in its application cited intelligence report which said, “In most villages, the people have decided to defy the Supreme Court order and to go ahead with the celebration of jallikattu as usual. This situation would create a major law and order problem in many places during the Pongal festival…”
The CJI told the ASG, “If you say law and order problem will arise in implementing the order, then no order can be passed by this court.” The ASG replied that he had not seen the application and he was concerned only with the religious sentiments involved with the event.
Opposing the application, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the Animal Welfare Board, submitted that the State Government was using religion to promote its political interests. Giving law and order as the reason for vacating the stay amounted to threatening the court. “It is a State-sponsored cruelty to animals. It is really unfortunate that the State is evoking religious sentiments to promote a sport that involves cruelty to animals,” he said.
© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu