New Delhi: The Centre's notification lifting ban on bull taming sport Jalikattu during the festival of Pongal in Tamil Nadu was today challenged in the Supreme Court. The petitions seeking urgent hearing on the issue were mentioned before a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur which agreed to hear it tomorrow.
The pleas were filed by Animal Welfare Board of India, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and a Bangalore-based NGO. The four-year-old ban on holding of Jalikattu was lifted on January 8 by the Modi government in poll-bound Tamil Nadu with certain restrictions.
The decision to allow Jalikattu, days before traditional harvest festival Pongal begins along with bullock cart races in other parts of the country, had come through a government notification despite strong objections by animal rights groups. Jalikattu also known Eruthazhuvuthal is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day.
"Central Government, hereby specifies that following animals shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animals with effect from the date of publication of this notification, namely bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers, lions and bulls. "Provided that bulls may be continued to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal, at events such as Jalikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat in the manner by customs of any community or practiced traditionally," the notification had said.
However, the Centre had also put some conditions, saying bullock cart race shall be organised on a proper track, which shall not exceed two kilometres. In case of Jalikattu, the moment the bull leaves the enclosure, it shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metres and it should also be ensured that the bulls are put to proper testing by authorities of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department to ensure that they are in good physical condition to participate in the event.
Performance enhancement drugs are not to be administered to the bulls, the notification had said. The use of bulls in performances was banned by the UPA government in 2011 on the ground that the sport ended in cruelty to the animals.
According to the notification, Jalikattu or bullock cart races shall have to be held with prior approval of district authorities and should be duly monitored by District Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and State Animal Welfare Board or district authorities to ensure that no unnecessary pain or suffering is inflicted or caused during the course of such events.