New Delhi: The Centre has reportedly asked Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) chairman Maj General (retd.) R.M. Kharb and vice chairman Chinny Krishna to resign from the statutory body for challenging its January 8 notification lifting a four-year-old executive order prohibiting jallikattu.
The AWBI filed a petition in the Supreme Court on Monday against the government’s move. Jallikattu is a traditional Tamil bull-baiting sport which animal rights activists say involves cruelty to bulls.
Though there has been no official confirmation of the resignation call, sources in the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) said both Kharb and Krishna were called by a senior ministry official today and asked to resign from their posts for going against the government’s decision.
Earlier in the day, the AWBI, along with People for Ethical treatment of Animals (PETA), the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation, Compassion Unlimited Plus Action and some individuals, filed a petition in the apex court challenging the latest notification of the ministry as it was in violation of the court’s May 7, 2014, judgement banning jallikattu. The argument of the petitioners is that the ministry notification calls to ‘regulate’ jallikattu even though the Supreme Court judgement has already held the sport to be inherently violativee of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The AWBI petition also urges contempt of court action against the Centre.
The ministry’s January 8 notification overturned a 2011 notification that forbade exhibition or training of bulls and some other animals as performing animals. In 2014, the Supreme Court upheld the notification and struck down the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act No 27 of 2009, which permitted the traditional sport.
Asked for his reaction, Chennai-based Krishna refused to deny or confirm whether the ministry had sought his resignation. “I would say, no comments,” he told The Wire.
General Kharb too refused to comment on the matter but said, “Jallikattu puts the animal through unnecessary pain. We decided to go ahead with the petition in the Supreme Court against the notification keeping the mandate of the board in mind.” He said, “Since the matter is sub judice, I would not like to comment more on it and hope justice will prevail.” The court is set to hear the petition on Tuesday, January 12.
The traditional bull-taming sport is popular in Madurai, Dindigul and Sivaganga districts of Tamil Nadu, and is typically played during the annual harvest festival Pongal, which falls on January 14 this year.
The AWBI has vociferously pushed for government action against jallikattu in 2011 and has filed many petitions to ban the sport. PETA’s involvement in the fight is not new either. PETA ran a strong campaign against the sport and was supported by some well-known Bollywood actors including Bharatiya Janata Party MP Hema Malini.