Jallikattu Current Affairs - 2020

SC refuses to pass judgment on Jallikattu before Pongal

The Supreme Court has rejected a plea urging it to pass judgement on Jallikattu before the harvest festival of Pongal. It had also dismissed the review petition against its 2014 verdict.

Earlier, the apex court had questioned the Union Government for its January 2016 notification allowing use of bulls in events like Jallikattu, saying that its 2014 verdict banning the use of the animals cannot be negated.

About Jallikattu

  • Jallikattu is a bull taming or bull vaulting sport played in Tamil Nadu on Mattu Pongal day as a part of Pongal celebrations i.e. harvest festival. It is one of the oldest living ancient tradition practiced in the modern era.
  • Jallikattu has been derived from the words ‘calli’ (coins) and ‘kattu’ (tie), which means a bundle of coins is tied to the bull’s horns.
  • In the ancient Sangam literature the sport has been called as ‘Yeru thazhuvuthal’ (means to embrace bulls). In older times Jallikattu was popular amongst warriors during the Tamil classical period.
  • The bull tamer sought to remove this bundle from the animal’s head to win gold or silver coins to be called ‘brave’ and ‘valourous’.
  • All castes participate in the event and majority of jallikattu and bulls used for the sport belong to the pulikulam breed of cattle.
Supreme Court Ban
  • The Supreme Court had banned Jallikattu in May 2014 and held that bulls could not be used as performing animals. It completely banned use of bulls for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races across the country.
  • The ban was imposed by SC as it violated provisions of The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA), 1960; fundamental duty Article 51A (g): compassion towards animal; Article 21 (Right to Life), which prohibits any disturbance to the environment, including animals as it is considered essential for human life.
  • It also had held that Jallikattu has nothing to do with exercise of the fundamental right of religious freedom. It also runs counter to the concept of welfare of the animal, which is the basic foundation of the PCAA.

Horse racing not animal cruelty: SC

The Supreme Court has ruled that horse racing per se is not animal cruelty. It held that it is different from Jallikattu, which metes out specific methods of torture to bulls.

This observation was made by a Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud on a petition challenging a Rajasthan High Court’s order banning tonga races in the State.

What is the issue?

  • The Rajasthan High Court had banned tonga races in the state by relying on a Supreme Court judgment of 2014 banning jallikattu.
  • Against the tonga races ban, a petition was filed in the apex country saying that the 2014 judgment banning jallikattu was confined only to bulls and not horses.
  • The petition also mentioned SC’s 2014 observations that the horses biologically equipped for racing and their anatomy enables it to make use of speed which can be usefully used for racing, etc, unlike bulls.
  • It also said that tonga races are held all over the world, including North America, Australia, Europe and New Zealand under the name of harness racing

 SC Ruling

Horse racing per se is not cruelty, but tonga races on metal roads leads to animal cruelty. Bulls as “bovine animals” unfit for running, while horses as solid-hoofed quadruped, domesticated for riding.  2014 judgment (banning jallikattu) and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 were against cruelty shown to all animals, whether bull or horse. The Jallikattu verdict dwelt on specific instances of cruelty shown to bulls like biting and twisting a bull’s tail, poking the bull with sticks and knives, using irritant solutions in the eyes, use of alcoholic liquids and throwing stones.