Supreme Court refuses to stay Jallikattu ordinance, allows Centre to withdraw 2016 notification

Vasudha Misra

The Supreme Court today issued notice to state of Tamil Nadu in a challenge to the law passed by the State government to facilitate conduct of Jallikattu. A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Rohinton Nariman, however, refused to stay the law.

The Court was hearing a batch of applications filed by animal rights bodies and activists challenging the law passed by Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu had amended the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 by carving out an exemption for Jallikattu.

Meanwhile, the Court today allowed the Centre to withdraw the notification dated January 6, 2016 which had allowed Jallikattu to take place.

Interestingly, the Court was also critical of the Tamil Nadu government for failing to get the law and order situation in the State under control. Justice Dipak Misra addressed Senior counsel Parasaran by referring to similar protests in the Cauvery case,  noting,

“Please tell your state Executive that law and order is of primacy in a democracy. We have said the same thing in another matter where Mr. Naphade and Mr.  Nariman were appearing.”

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the Centre brought forth a new perspective. He defended the new Tamil Nadu law allowing Jallikattu, submitting that if the law allows slaughtering of animals in the name of religion and for food, there is nothing wrong in permitting a sport that has been part of cultural tradition.

He said that Article 29 of the Constitution permitted such freedom, also going on to state that,

“Even the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 permits slaughter in the name of religion and for human consumption with the condition that there shall be no torture inflicted on animals,” Rohatgi said.

After hearing all the parties on the issue, the Bench decided not to stay the Ordinance, but issued notice to the Tamil Nadu government to hear their side of the story. Among other things, the apex court has permitted animal rights bodies and other individuals to amend their pending petitions to challenge the new legislation.

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