What is Jallikattu?

Jallikattu is a traditional bull taming sport in Tamilnadu where the bulls are tied released in to the crowd and participants try to overpower the bull by getting hold of its hunch and riding over it or sometimes by removing the flags affixed to bulls’ horns.

Why is it important?

This was in practice during the period of 400 B.C and 100 B.C known as Tamil classical period and has cultural significance. The bulls are specially bred by the village for this purpose and are called temple bulls which are used only for breeding purposes and not for agricultural purposes. The bulls that don’t get tamed during the sport are used to breed as the farmers feel this is the only practical way to ensure that off springs are stronger, more resistant to and give higher quality of milk. There are only 36 native breeds in India which have A2 protein gene in them which is a beneficial and dominant protein in milk. This also helps in preserving these native breeds. If these become extinct we have to resort to difficult and expensive methods to breed them.

Ban on it

Jallikattu is banned in India. Supreme court in its judgement “Animal welfare board of India vs A. Nagaraja and Ors” struck down the Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation act of 2009 as it is in violation of section 11 of prevention of cruelty to animals act of 1960 which states that over-driving, over- riding any animal subjecting it to unnecessary pain and suffering, inciting an animal to fight amounts to cruelty and upheld the notification issued by central government in 2011 banning use of various animals including bulls as performing animals. The court also stated that it works against Article 51A of The Constitution according to which it is every citizen’s duty to have compassion for living creatures.

In January 2016 center issued another notification allowing the use of bulls in traditional sports like jallikattu and bullock cart races providing number of safe guards but this has been challenged by peta (people for ethical treatment of animals) claiming that center cannot allow the sport despite Supreme Court’s ban on it. This was stayed by the Supreme Court for negating its judgement on the ban of Jallikatu and the court has reserved the order.

After three years an ordinance was passed by the state to lift the ban including provisions to prevent cruelty against the bull and approved by the governor. This is cleared by the center and sent for the president’s assent when given lifts the ban. This has to be waited till verdict is given by the Supreme Court in above case where the center’s notification is challenged. As the matter is still sub judice promulgation of ordinance before the verdict is given would amount to overriding the judiciary.

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