In a major step towards protecting animals from human cruelty, the Supreme Court on Wednesday 7th May 2014, banned the popular post-harvest Jallikattu (taming the bull) or bullfights in Tamil Nadu and bullock-cart racing in Maharashtra, Punjab and other states, saying they violated provisions of the 50-year-old Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Significantly, the court favoured constitutional status for rights of animals like citizens. It said, “Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many of the countries around the world, so as to protect their dignity and honour.”
A bench of Justices K S Radhakrishnan and P C Ghose struck down as illegal the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009, and said, “Bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for the Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races in the state of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and elsewhere in the country.”
Before banning Jallikattu and cart-racing, the bench extensively narrated behavioural patterns of the animal. “Bulls adopt flight or fight response when they are frightened or threatened and this instinctual response to a perceived threat is what is being exploited in Jallikattu or bullock-cart races,” it said.
“During Jallikattu, many animals are observed to engage in a flight response as they try to run away from the arena when they experience fear or pain, but cannot do this since the area is completely enclosed. Jallikattu demonstrates a link between actions of humans and the fear, distress and pain experienced by bulls,” it said.
“Studies indicate that rough and abusive handling of bulls compromise welfare and for increasing fear in bulls, often, they are pushed, hit, prodded, abused, causing mental as well as physical harm,” said Justice Radhakrishnan, who authored the judgment for the bench.
Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) through senior advocate Raj Panjwani, said even if Jallikattu was conducted as per the Tamil Nadu legislation, it would still violate provisions of PCA Act as the event involved causing pain and suffering to bulls, which was prohibited under Section 11(1)(a) of the central law.
AWBI said Jallikattu and bullock-cart races had no historical, cultural and religious significance and told the court that even if they had, it should not be permitted as it violated the PCA Act.
While declaring that the rights of bulls against cruelty was inviolable, the bench gave a general direction to the governments and AWBI “to take appropriate steps to see that the persons-in-charge or care of animals take reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of animals”.
This could put all pet owners, dairy farm owners and animal keepers on notice against causing cruelty to them. However, the court did not deal with a related issue – whether bullock-carts, which are rural India’s sole transportation medium both for men and material, were included in this general direction.
The court also gave the following directions:
- AWBI and governments are directed to take steps to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals, since their rights have been statutorily protected under Section 3 and 11 of the PCA Act.
- AWBI to ensure that provisions of Section 11(1) of the PCA Act is scrupulously followed, meaning thereby that the person-in-charge or care of animals shall not incite any animal to fight against a human being or another animal
- If the court’s directions are not complied with scrupulously, it would be the duty of the government and AWBI to bring to book the violator.
Credits: Above News Report has been taken from Times of India and is penned by TOI Correspondent Dhananjay Mahapatra