New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday said that it will hear on January 31 all the petitions challenging the amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1980, by Tamil Nadu for permitting Jallikattu -- the bull-taming sport held in the state during Pongal.
A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said it would hear the petitions of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and the Compassion Unlimited Plus Action (CUPA), challenging the amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, passed by the by Tamil Nadu assembly on January 23.
The court said this as Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi informed it that the Centre has filed an application seeking to withdraw its January 7, 2016, notification permitting Jallikattu in the wake of amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1980 by the Tamil Nadu assembly.
As the Attorney General mentioned the filing of the application for withdrawing the notification, Justice Mishra said it would be heard along with other petitions challenging the validity of the Tamil Nadu law.
While the AWBI is contesting the validity of the Tamil Nadu law permitting Jallikattu, a Tamil Nadu lawyer G.S. Mani sought its rejection, saying that state assembly has the authority to amend the law for permitting Jallikattu.
Mani said that the amendment was not intended to obliterate the 2014 judgment, but a decision by the popularly-elected representatives taking into account the wishes of the people.
The AWBI, in its application, has said that the state amendment was in fact ultra vires to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Constitution and "nothing but a surreptitious method of circumventing the law laid down by the Supreme Court" by its 2014 judgment.
"The impugned amendment does not change the fact that Jallikattu is still a form of entertainment or sport and as such falls fouls of Section 11 of the PCA Act" and is thus "unconstitutional, illegal and invalid on the grounds that it directly contravenes central legislation in myriad ways," the AWBI has said in its application.
Seeking the quashing of the Tamil Nadu amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, the CUPA has said it is "wholly in contravention with the law as well as the decision of the Supreme Court, which squarely covers the entire issue".
The top court by its May 7, 2014 verdict had banned Tamil Nadu's centuries-old Jallikattu, saying that bulls could not be used as performing animals, either for the Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races.
Holding that Jallikattu, bullock-cart race and such events per se violate the Prevention of Cruelty against Animals Act, the apex court in its May 7 verdict had said: "Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many of the countries around the world, so as to protect their dignity and honour."