President Pranab Mukherjee has approved the promulgation of The Prevention of cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 by the Governor of Karnataka in pursuance of Article 213 of Constitution.
The promulgated ordinance legalises Kambala, bullock cart races and bull runs as traditional sports involving animals and exempt them from The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
In November 2016, the Karnataka High Court had banned the kambala along with bull-cart race in the state while hearing a case filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) citing animal cruelty. The high court had stayed these traditional sports in view of the Supreme Court’s ban on jallikattu, a traditional bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu.
Following protests by people and kambala organisers, Karnataka Assembly had passed an ordinance Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Bill, 2017 in February 2017 to allow Kambala. In April 2017, the Union Home Ministry asked the state government to modify the Bill (ordinance). The state government made the modifications and sent it back to the union government. Earlier in June 2017, the Union Ministry of Law and Justice had cleared the modified bill (ordinance).
Kambala is the traditional slush track buffalo race that is held annually in coastal districts of Karnataka to entertain rural people of the area. Slushy/marshy paddy field track is used for Kambala. The sports season generally starts in November and lasts till March. The contest generally takes place between two pairs of buffaloes, each pair race in two seprate wet rice fields tracks, controlled by a whip-lashing farmer.
In the traditional form of Kambala, buffalo racing was non-competitive and buffalo pairs ran one by one in paddy fields. Besides, there was also ritualistic approach as some agriculturists race their buffaloes as a means to thank the god for protecting their animals from disease. But in recent times, Kambala has become an organised rural sport.