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Law

'Jallikattu Doesn't Violate Principles of Compassion, Humanism': TN Govt Tells SC

The government's submission to the apex court comes amidst the expectation that a constitution bench would hear a batch of petitions later this week seeking the quashing of laws that offer legal protection to the sport. 

New Delhi: Describing Jallikattu, the popular bull-taming sport, as a religious and cultural event, the Tamil Nadu government told the Supreme Court that it “does not violate the principles of compassion and humanism”.

The state government’s submission to the apex court comes amidst the expectation that a constitution bench would hear a batch of petitions later this week seeking the quashing of Tamil Nadu laws that offer legal protection to the sport.

Tamil Nadu enacted the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act of 2017 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017 to override the ban imposed on the sport in 2014 by the Supreme Court. The laws were framed based on Article 29(1) of the Indian constitution, which provides any section of the citizens residing in India having a distinct culture, language, or script, the right to conserve their culture, language and script.

The sport was banned between 2014 and 2016 due to the Supreme Court’s order. After the laws passed by the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly in 2017 lifted the ban on the sport, several petitions were filed in the Supreme Court. The petitions were referred to the Constitution Bench in February 2018, which are expected to come up for hearing later this week.

The state of Tamil Nadu continues to maintain that it is the right of the people to “preserve their traditions and culture”.

“A practice which is centuries-old and symbolic of a community’s identity can be regulated and reformed as the human race evolves rather than being completely obliterated. It will be viewed as hostile to culture and against the sensitivities of the community. The people of Tamil Nadu have a right to preserve their traditions and culture,” the Tamil Nadu government told the court, according to The Hindu.

It also argued that Jallikattu should be “seen as a tool for conserving this precious indigenous breed of livestock”.

“Jallikattu does not violate the principles of compassion and humanism… The traditional and cultural significance of Jallikattu and its intertwining with the sociocultural milieu is taught in the high school curriculum so that the significance is maintained beyond generations,” the government said in writing, according to The Hindu.

The government also sought to explain the historicity involved. “Jallikattu traces its origin to the Indus Valley civilisation drawing a huge crowd. There are terracotta tablets that depict the celebration of Jallikattu. The event is conducted during the Pongal festival as a token of gratitude for a good harvest,” the government said, according to New Indian Express.