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A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will consider the validity of amendments made by Tamil Nadu to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), thereby permitting Jallikattu.
A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman delivered the judgment today referring the case to Constitution Bench.
The Bench also framed five questions for the determination of Constitution Bench.
The Bench had reserved its verdict in the challenge to the state government amendments back in December last year. While doing so, it had hinted that a larger bench would likely be called upon to determine whether Jallikattu falls under the ambit of “cultural right”, which is safeguarded by Article 29 of the Constitution.
In 2014, the Supreme Court had held the practice of Jallikattu to be violative of the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals Act, 1960. Specifically with regard to the cultural aspect of the sport, Justice KS Radhakrishnan had held in that judgment that Jallikattu, as it is practiced today, has never been the culture or tradition of Tamil Nadu. Therefore, the Tamil Nadu Jallikattu Regulation (TNJR) Act of 2009, which regulated the practice, was struck down.
In January 2016, the Central government issued a new notification carving out an exception for Jallikkattu and bullock cart races from the scope of the PCA Act. That notification came to be challenged in the Supreme Court. Later that year, the Court would dismiss a Review Petition filed against the 2014 judgment by the Tamil Nadu government.
Amidst widespread protests in Tamil Nadu in January last year, the state government promulgated an ordinance that sought to exempt Jallikattu from the purview of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. The Centre had approved the same as protests in the state intensified.
Update [4:09 pm]: The Bench has framed the following questions of law to be determined by the Constitution Bench:
i. Is the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act referable, in pith and substance, to Entry 17, List III of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India, or does it further and perpetuate cruelty to animals; and can it, therefore, be said to be a measure of prevention of cruelty to animals? Is it colourable legislation which does not relate to any Entry in the State List or Entry 17 of the Concurrent List?
ii. The Tamil Nadu Amendment Act states that it is to preserve the cultural heritage of the State of Tamil Nadu. Can the impugned Tamil Nadu Amendment Act be stated to be part of the cultural heritage of the people of the State of Tamil Nadu so as to receive the protection of Article 29 of the Constitution of India?
iii. Is the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act, in pith and substance, to ensure the survival and well-being of the native breed of bulls? Is the Act, in pith and substance, relatable to Article 48 of the Constitution of India?
iv. Does the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act go contrary to Articles 51A(g) and 51A(h), and could it be said, therefore, to be unreasonable and violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India?
v. Is the impugned Tamil Nadu Amendment Act directly contrary to the judgment in A. Nagaraja (supra), and the review judgment dated 16th November, 2016 in the aforesaid case, and whether the defects pointed out in the aforesaid two judgments could be said to have been overcome by the Tamil Nadu Legislature by enacting the impugned Tamil Nadu Amendment Act?
Read the Order: