Q. Why is this in news?
- The Tamil Nadu government has revently permitted jallikattu to be held across the State during the coming Pongal season. However, the bull-taming sport , jallikattu would be now subject to fresh restrictions in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- This time not more than 300 bull tamers would be allowed to take part in a jallikattu, ‘manjuvirattu’ or ‘vadamadu’ event. All the spectators would have to undergo thermal screening before entering the venue.
- To ensure adherence to physical distancing norms, the number of spectators would be limited to 50% of the venue’s capacity.
- All bull tamers taking part in jallikattu events would have to get a certificate from a government-recognised lab, stating that they have tested negative for COVID-19.
Q. What are the new norms for this event?
- Members of the audience would have to wear masks and adhere to distancing norms. A standard operating procedure for conducting jallikattu events would be issued soon. This would be in addition to the SOP being followed since 2017.
- Members of jallikattu organising committees, bull owners and tamers and residents across Madurai district welcomed the State government’s decision.
Q. What is jallikattu?
- Jallikattu is a bull’s game day event happening in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations.
- In it , Bulls are bred specifically by some traditional rich persons of the village& temples for the event.
- Bullfighting was common among the ancient tribes who lived in the ‘Mullai’ geographical division of the ancient Tamil country. Later, it became a platform for display of bravery and prize money was introduced for entertainment.
- The event often results in major injuries and deaths with over 200 deaths over the past two decades.
- Animal activist organizations like the FIAPO (Federation of India Animal Protection Agencies) and PETA India have protested against the practice over the years.
- The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has filed a case in the Supreme Court of India for an outright ban on Jallikattu because of the cruelty to animals and the threat to public safety involved.
Q. What is Supreme court’s verdict in this regard?
Supreme Court, in Animal Welfare Board of India vs. Nagaraja (2014), banned Jallikattu.
The reasons provided were:
- Violated Prevention of Cruelty Act, Section 11(3). Ground : Unacceptable behaviors such as “beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, overloads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering or causes”.
- Infringement of Article 21 of Constitution which entitles right to life and personal dignity: Animals, which are integral part of environment, must be free from cruelty. Court extended the scope of Article 21 to include animals.
- International Perspective: “Animals must not be used for human comfort, as we must progress from anthropocentric laws to nature’s rights centric laws.”
Further, Germany is cited as an example as it recently amended its Constitution to include animal rights.4. Jallikattu as a sport is “inherently cruel” as has been proved by the evidence submitted by AWBI. And Bulls are not anatomically oriented towards fighting.
- SC cited Adithan Case where it put forth that “Any custom or usage irrespective of even any proof of their existence in pre-constitutional days cannot be countenanced as a source of law to claim any rights”.
In addition, A.51A of our constitution mandates the citizens to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.
Q. What are the arguments in favour of Jallikattu?
- It is the symbol of the cultural pride of the state and represent historical importance as it is an ancient sport aimed to embrace the bull.
- The breeds of bulls used in the sport are but not restricted to native breeds like Kangayam and Bangur. These breeds are referred to be the strongest breeds of the bull. With the help of Jallikattu, the breeds are reared more leading to an increase in their otherwise diminishing numbers. (As reported, in 1990 there were around a million of Kangayam bulls. The numbers dropped to 15000 as of 2017.) Hence, the sport of Jallikattu gives a chance to rear the bulls.
Q. What are the arguments against Jallikattu?
- The sport is termed as the bull-taming event and in a point of discussion is referred to violate the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
- The bulls may get injured during the sports which might lead to animal welfare issues.
- Safeguarding the wildlife and forests, and being compassionate towards living creatures are important aspects of directives principles of state policy (DPSPs) enshrined in Article 51 A of Indian Constitution.
While animal welfare organisations have been calling for a ban on the “barbaric” event, political parties have come out in support of it claiming it represented “Tamil pride”, and was a way to preserve native breeds of the bull.
Due to these protests, in 2017, the governor of Tamil Nadu issued a new ordinance that authorized the continuation of jallikattu events. On 23 January 2017 the Tamil Nadu legislature passed a bipartisan bill, with the accession of the Prime Minister, exempting jallikattu from the Prevention of Cruelity to Animals Act (1960).