Upholding animal rights and pointing out the “untold cruelty” the bovines are subjected to, the Supreme Court on Wednesday banned centuries-old Jallikattu- bullfights and bullock-cart racing- organised during festivals in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring states.
Significantly, the bench headed by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan favoured elevating the rights of the animals to “constitutional rights”. “The Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many other countries, to protect their dignity and honour,” the bench said.
The court order came on a petition filed by Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) against the judgment of Madras High Court which allowed the sport to continue. Besides referring to the cruelty the bullocks are made to endure, the bench also spoke about large number of the animals getting injured and even dying during the event.
The court directed governments and AWBI to take steps to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals saying “all living creatures, including animals, have inherent dignity and a right to live peacefully and right to protect their well-being”.
Welcoming the SC order, animal rights association People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said it is a landmark victory for animals in India. “Year after year, court guidelines or laws were violated during Jallikattu and bull races, because of which countless bulls and people have painfully died,” Dr Manilal Valliyate, PETA India, said in a statement.
“Animal also has honour and dignity of which it cannot be arbitrarily deprived of. Its rights and privacy have to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks”, the bench said. The apex court said organisers of Jallikattu are depriving the rights guaranteed to the bulls under Section 3 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
“Sadism and perversity is writ large in the actions of the organisers of Jallikattu and the event is meant not for the wellbeing of the animal but for the pleasure and enjoyment of human beings, particularly the organisers and spectators”, the court said.