SC stays govt notification allowing Jallikattu

SC stays govt notification allowing Jallikattu
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Chennai: Jallikattu, one of the oldest bull-taming sports in the world, will not be played this year during Pongal in Tamil Nadu, with the Supreme Court today staying the Centre's notification lifting ban on the controversial game as an interim measure.

The court rejected the plea of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and Tamil Nadu that Jallikattu is part of the ancient tradition and culture and should not be stopped as there were enough safeguards provided in the January 7 notification.

"As an interim measure, we direct that there shall be stay of notification dated January 7, 2016 issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF)," a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and N V Ramana said while issuing notices to the Centre and others on a batch of pleas challenging the notification.

At the outset, the petitions filed by bodies including Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India were listed before a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur.

However, CJI Thakur referred the petitions to the bench headed by Justice Misra after Justice Banumathi, who hails from Tamil Nadu and is presently part of the CJI's bench, recused from hearing them.

A battery of senior lawyers including K K Venugopal, Anand Grover, C A Sundaram and Siddharth Luthra sought an interim stay on MoEF's notification citing relevant portions of the earlier apex court judgement and said that in the 21st century, an animal cannot be subjected to cruelty in the name of culture and traditions.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Centre, opposed the plea saying no fundamental rights of any of the petitioner bodies have been violated and moreover, the notification provides for measures to ensure that no bulls are subjected to any kind of cruelty during Jallikattu.

"Jallikattu is not a bull fight of Spain where either the bull or the man dies," Rohatgi said, adding that the taming of bull in this sport is done without any instrument or weapon.

"In this Jallikattu, a man may die but the bull can't," he said, adding that the court has to balance the culture and tradition. He said the apex court may ask the District Collector or the Commissioners to supervise Jallikattu and file report in this court.

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