Jallikattu Row: Supreme Court Has Not Refused Stay on Tamil Nadu Amendment Act

For the Supreme Court, the question of interim stay on Tamil Nadu’s Jallikattu Amendment Act is still open.

Jallikattu. Credit: Reuters/Files

Jallikattu. Credit: Reuters/Files

New Delhi: On February 4, the Supreme Court uploaded the official report of the proceedings of the hearing on Jallikattu on January 31, by the bench of justices Dipak Misra and Rohinton Fali Nariman.

What is interesting in the order is that, contrary to what most Supreme Court correspondents reported that day, the court had not refused a stay on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu) Amendment Act, which had received the president’s assent on the same day.

According to the order, six interlocutory applications (IAs) were heard that day. Of these, IA No. 16, filed by the central government, seeking permission to withdraw the notification dated January 7, 2016, which facilitated that the holding of Jallikattu was allowed in view of the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act.

The court allowed the withdrawal, although the senior counsel for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), one of the petitioners challenging the notification, M.S. Ganesh, had opposed the withdrawal – probably because he felt it was too late to do so – especially when the judgment was reserved after hearing all the parties.

But the court allowed the petitioners to amend their old petitions against the 2016 notification, so as to assail the constitutional validity of the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act.

Thus IA No. 18, filed by the Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA) to amend its 2016 writ petition to challenge the Tamil Nadu Act was allowed by the bench. Senior counsel, Siddharth Luthra represented CUPA.

IA No. 1, filed by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), represented by senior counsel, Anand Grover, also sought to amend its old petition to assail the constitutional validity of the Tamil Nadu Act. The bench also allowed this IA.

IA No. 4, filed in the Animal Welfare Board of India’s 2016 petition, first sought stay on the Act, but was allowed to amend it to challenge the constitutional validity of the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act.

PETA did not seek a stay on the Tamil Nadu Amendment Act, although in all probability, it would challenge its constitutional validity.

IA No. 17, filed by CUPA specifically sought stay on the Tamil Nadu Act. On this, the bench said it would issue notice.

The counsel to whom The Wire spoke to clarified that the question of stay on the Act is still open, as the bench did not consider the question because no one pressed for a stay on January 31.

As Acts passed by parliament and state legislatures enjoy the presumption of constitutionality, courts normally refrain from granting a stay without hearing the parties concerned, to satisfy itself why such presumption cannot apply.

This is in contrast to how swiftly the court stayed the 2016 notification issued by the Centre to permit Jallikattu, and refused to vacate it subsequently.

But this does not mean that the court would choose the other alternative of refusing to grant a stay, when no one pressed for a stay, or even opposed it during the first hearing.

In other words, nothing prevents the petitioners from pressing for a stay of the Act and the court from considering such a plea on merits, as the bench has not so far refused to grant the stay.

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  • Radha Rajan

    Thank you for throwing light on what the apex court really said. There is still hope for the bulls.