Much hue and cry is being raised over the ban of Jallikattu by the Supreme Court, which was rightfully needed. This is nothing but a war between culture and concern or sentiments v/s sanity. To some, the dispute over the SC ban on Jallikattu may seem outrageous, but to others it is delightfully ironic. We have been always taught since inception that the law that governs India is always reasonable not only towards the people but also towards animals, and the said test of reasonableness is decided by the apex court of this country.
Therefore, right from the efforts made by Mrs Menaka Gandhi towards animal life till the enactment of “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act”, this country has attempted to strike a balance between the environment, animals (wildlife) and civil society. However, the recent amendment to the “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act” has not closed the chapter; rather, it has opened many floodgates. Now there are calls from various states demanding legalisation of elephant polo in Rajasthan, Kambala (buffalo racing) in Karnataka, bullock cart racing and cock fights in Maharashtra and bulbul fighting, which is seen in Assam, among others.
It is truly sad that Supreme Court is required to intervene in these matters to make people realise religions’ impact on the environment and animals. The judiciary is one of the most important pillars of democracy. The courts are final interpreters of the Constitution and law. However, there seems to be a trend by governments to defy SC orders, which can ultimately weaken democracy in this country.
The Maharashtra government has been finding ways to defy the SC over the dance bars ban issue in the state. The Karnataka government and lawmakers continue to ignore the apex court’s directives on the Kaveri water issue. And now, by bringing in an ordinance to legalise Jallikattu, the Tamil Nadu government seems to be walking the same path. Ironically, when the police cracked down on protesters at Marina beach, the supporters of Jallikattu saw it as a human rights violations and an atrocity by the Tamil Nadu police against those protesting the Supreme Court ban. What people don’t understand that on the one hand they are taking the aid of human rights, which is a compassionate legislature, whereas on the other hand they want to continue cruelty against animals, disregarding all forms of compassion and sensitivity.
Jallikattu has been a cultural tradition in Tamil Nadu for around two thousand years. The bull-taming event is part of Pongal celebrations on Mattu Pongal day, which is the third day of the four-day festival, and whoever tames the bull is awarded with gold and silver coins tied to the bulls horns. Article 51(A)(g) of the Constitution of India states that it shall be the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes and rivers, and show compassion towards all living creatures.
Therefore, it has to be our sincere endeavour to safeguard not only ourselves but also the environment, wildlife and living creatures. Today we are conveniently turning a blind eye towards the SC’s Herculean efforts to give humane treatment to animals, which are often subjected to cruelty and brutality like forcing chilly powder in their eyes, forcing them to have alcohol, starving them for days and keeping them in inhuman conditions all for the sake of culture and tradition. It is the truth, which is universally acknowledged, that no religion preaches ignorance and blind faith. No chain is stronger than its weakest link. Is our religion so weak and ignorant that we cannot see the brutality and cruelty caused by us to animals? What is the use of education if it cannot trigger kindness towards animals?
As per the pro-Jallikattu lobby, a person disbelieving the practice of Jallikattu is considered to be an atheist but to others they are the loyal opposition. It’s always said that people are known by the views they keep. Are we providing a bright, fearless, unbiased and clean future for the generations to come by overriding the Supreme Court’s order by compelling governments to amend laws as per their own convenience?
By Advocate Madhav Thorat, Amicus Curiae and Senior lawyer of Bombay high court...