New Delhi, Jan 13 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to vacate its order barring the bull taming sports Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu held during Pongal festival, causing widespread dismay in the state. An apex court bench comprising Justice Dipak Misra and Justice N.V. Ramana declined to lift an earlier order that put on hold a central government notification allowing Jallikattu and bull races. Rejecting the contention of petitioner Radhakrishnan, the bench said they were not inclined to vacate their order of Tuesday prohibiting Jallikattu — on grounds of cruelty to the bulls. The court said they were “unimpressed” by the submission made by the petitioner seeking a lifting of the stay. Jallikattu, an ancient sport, is held in rural parts of Tamil Nadu during Pongal festival. It involves young men clinging onto the hump of bulls to win prize money. 

Appearing for the petitioner, counsel N. Raja Raman told the court that Jallikattu was a part of Tamil tradition and culture and was being carried on for thousands of years. Raman said the animals in Jallikattu were the pride of the farmers who viewed them as a part of their own families. The ruling triggered demonstrations in parts of Tamil Nadu. A hunger strike began in Alanganallur and Palemedu, the two places known for the sport in Madurai district. Protests were also held in support of the sport in Chennai, Madurai, Salem, Pudukottai and Trichy. P. Rajasekaran, president of the Jallikattu Paddukappu Peravai, told IANS that there cannot be any cruelty inflicted on the animals as they were subjected to a medical examination before and after the event. At Mamallapuram near Chennai, central minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Tamil Nadu government could enact an ordinance to permit Jallikattu during Pongal festival and New Delhi would back it. She said the central government cannot promulgate an ordinance as a case was pending in the court. 

But the Tamil Nadu government could come up with an ordinance and the central government would support it. Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and political parties in Tamil Nadu had urged the central government to issue an ordinance to allow Jallikattu. It involves young men clinging onto the hump of bulls to win prize money. 

Disagreeing with Raman’s submission that attack on Jallikattu was rooted in the colonial-era law of protecting animals from cruelty, Justice Misra said the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals law was enacted in 1960 when India was independent. Appearing for one of the petitioners on whose petition the apex court had on Tuesday stayed the operation of the government notification permitting Jallikattu, senior counsel C.A. Sundaram made light of submission that BBC had made a documentary saying there was no cruelty to bulls in Jallikattu. Referring to an earlier judgment of the apex court, Sundaram said it was held that the anatomy of the bulls was not such that they could be used for sports like Jallikattu or racing. 

He said the bulls cannot be called performing animals either. The apex court order of Tuesday putting on hold the central government’s January 7 notification followed petitions by animal rights activist Gauri Maulekhi and NGOs Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, Animal Welfare Board of India, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals India and Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organizations.

    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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