The question is simple. There are a few articles in the Indian Constitution. With regard to Jallikattu, I will categorize them into two groups, the first group supporting it, the next group opposing it.
Group 1. It says, because Jallikattu is a tradition linked with religion and which had royal mandate in the past, it can’t be deemed illegal.
Article 51A(f) – to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture
Article 29(1) – Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same
Article 25 – Freedom of Conscience and Free Profession, Practice and Propagation of Religion
(1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.
(2) Nothing in this article shall affect the operation of any existing law or prevent the State from making any law—
(a) regulating or restricting any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice;
(b) providing for social welfare and reform or the throwing open of Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus.
Article 13(3) – In this article, unless the context otherwise requires law includes any Ordinance, order, bye law, rule, regulation, notification, custom or usages having in the territory of India the force of law; laws in force includes laws passed or made by Legislature or other competent authority in the territory of India before the commencement of this Constitution and not previously repealed, notwithstanding that any such law or any part thereof may not be then in operation either at all or in particular areas
Group 2. This group asks us to show compassion to all living, and making state laws illegal, which contravene central legislations. Note that Jallikattu act was declared as in contravention of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
Article 51A(g) – to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
Article 254(1) – (1) If any provision of a law made by the Legislature of a State is repugnant to any provision of a law made by Parliament which Parliament is competent to enact, or to any provision of an existing law with respect to one of the matters enumerated in the Concurrent List, then, subject to the provisions of clause
( 2 ), the law made by Parliament, whether passed before or after the law made by the Legislature of such State, or, as the case may be, the existing law, shall prevail and the law made by the Legislature of the State shall, to the extent of the repugnancy, be void
Article 21 – Protection of life and personal liberty No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law
Added to this, there is this Congress mischief of banning bulls in performances.
If, two sets of articles in Constitution completely contravene each other, which one will take precedence? Who will decide that?
Now, look at what’s happening in Tamil Nadu today. The whole state is up in protest. This is the first time I have seen people coming out in numbers in the IT corridor. I myself have seen more than a thousand at a single protest site and there are at least 4-5 major protest sites. It’s not that these people are vagabonds trying to hog some limelight. They are college going students and job holders who have got very less time to spare. Estimates are that there are above 60000 people on the Marina beach. Government has declared a holiday for schools and colleges tomorrow.
If the state is up in arms in such a way, it simply means the something went wrong. Why are the people of the opinion that the courts erred?
The argument put forward by PETA is,
Jallikattu exploits bulls’ natural nervousness as prey animals by deliberately placing them in a terrifying situation in which they are forced to run away from those they perceive as predators. As PETA India has documented in Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI)–authorised inspections, the bulls become so frightened by the mob of men who participate that they slip, fall, run into barriers and traffic – and even jump off cliffs in their desperate attempts to escape – frequently leading to broken bones or death.
As can be seen in the documentation, jallikattu participants purposely disorient the bulls by forcing them to consume alcohol; twist and bite their tails; stab and jab them with sickles, spears, knives and sticks; cause them intense pain by yanking their nose ropes; and punch them, jump on them and drag them to the ground.
PETA India has also documented that during races, bulls run because people hurt them. They’re hit with everything from bare hands to nail-studded sticks, and their tailbones are broken at each joint. This is as painful to the bulls as it would be to us if someone were to break our fingers joint by joint.
In bullfights, the round ends when one of the frightened and injured bulls manages to flee – or is killed.
Participants and spectators are also at risk. From 2010 to 2014, media outlets reported that there were some 1,100 human injuries and 17 deaths caused by jallikattu-style events, including the death of a child. The actual number is probably higher since many injuries likely weren’t reported in the news.
If this is not true and exaggerated, where are the counter arguments? Were they forceful enough to put forward their view? Or it is just a whimper as a formality? Now the question is this. Jallikattu is a traditional event. If there are some random and unplanned mishaps in it’s execution, do you plan to regulate it? It looks like Tamil Nadu government formulated some rules to regularize it, including health checks for both the contestants and the bulls, number of participants against a bull. PETA argued, people are not following the rules. Let’s say, if people are not following road rules, will you ban the roads? Or will you enforce a regulation? That is where the crux of the argument lies. Based on some random accidents, you cannot ban a sport. You will have to regulate it and make it workable. There are some arguments over selective breeding(only the bulls which stand untamed after the bout are considered for breeding increasing the vitality of the race) and the arguments over milk(casein argument) and the likes.
Greenpeace is charged with denting India’s development in the name of disturbing ecological balance(their success rate in India vis-a-vis the globe is an indication of that). Caesin argument over PETA is also of the same league. Is there any truth in that? If yes, what are we going to do?
The situation, as it stands today, is thus. There is a Supreme Court judgement which people are not happy with. People are not happy with the government’s efforts in this regards. But, fortunately, the anger is against PETA, which people feel, manipulated the court to give such a judgement. Something needs to be done, and done fast to assuage the public anger. The courts and the governments should command respect and authority from the people. They cannot be slighted and that’s for India’s good. It’s upto them to decide what to do.
PS: An interesting discussion over PETA’s arguments.
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