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Preventing Animal Cruelty is a Duty of the State

About the Preventing Animal Cruelty

  • The Supreme Court in Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja, 2014 declared jallikattu illegitimate.
  • Following this, Tamil Nadu amended the central law, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960  and allowed “jallikattu” in the state.
  • In 2018, the question as to whether jallikattu can be conserved as the state’s cultural right under Article 29(1) of the Constitution was referred to a Constitution Bench of the SC.
    •  Article 29(1) of the Constitution guarantees the protection to cultural rights.
  • Against this backdrop, a Constitution Bench of SC is expected to deliver its verdict on the validity of the practice of jallikattu in the State.



  • It is a competitive sport and an event held to honour bull owners who rear them for mating where the contestants try to tame a bull for a prize;
  • It is a 2000-year-old tradition popular in Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Theni, Pudukkottai and Dindigul districts of Tamil Nadu known as the Jallikattu belt.
  • It is celebrated in the second week of January, during the Tamil harvest festival, Pongal.
  • Jallikattu is considered a traditional way for the peasant community to preserve their pure-breed native bulls.
  • Kangayam, Pulikulam, Umbalachery, Bargur and Malai Maadu are among the popular native cattle breeds used for Jallikattu. The owners of these premium breeds command respect locally.

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act

  • The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCA Act), 1960 was enacted by the Parliament to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals.
  • The Act was rooted in the ethical precept that it was morally wrong to inflict unnecessary pain and suffering on animals.
    • It did not emanate out of a belief that animals were vested with rights.
  • Limitations of Act: 
    • It does not criminalise the use of animals for experiments with a view to securing medical advancement.
    • The present penalty of Rs. 10 or 50  is very light in the law and is incapable of acting as any deterrent for potential offenders.
    • It does not include “Bestiality” as a crime.
    • It does not provide any freedom for animals.
  • To address these limitations, a draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Amendment) Bill, 2022 is being prepared by the Union Government.


Important Arguments

  • Tamil Nadu:  According to the State, “jallikattu” is a religious and cultural festival that bears a “religious significance” to the people of the State.
    • Since Jalikattu is a culture in the State, the court can at most regulate but not ban it.
    •  Jalikattu does not violate the principles of compassion and humanism and is not against the provisions of the PCA, Act.
  • Petitioners: The petitioners argue that the law permitting Jallikattu races does not prevent cruelty and is contradictory to the objective of the PCA Act.
    • It involves a question of inflicting cruelty and that ought to be stopped.
    • In sports like Jallikattu, animals lack agency and are compelled to do it.
    • Also, an activity for amusement cannot be brought in with the exception of the doctrine of necessity, because that doctrine is rooted in reasonableness.
  • The doctrine of Necessity is a term used to describe the basis on which administrative actions by the administrative authority, which are designed to restore order, are found to be constitutional.
    • They also argued that when the law prohibits cruelty to animals, there cannot be an amending Act which perpetuates cruelty.
  • Supreme Court:  In 2014, the SC held that jallikatu violated:
    •  The existing provisions of the PCA Act.
    • Fundamental duty contained in Article 51A(g).
    • Right to life contained in Article 21.
      • The expanded meaning of Word ‘life’ in this Article now included a right against disturbance to the basic environment.
      • It also meant that animal life must also be treated with intrinsic worth, honour and dignity.


Indian Constitution and Animal Rights

  • Legislation: Union and the State legislatures have equal power to make laws on the ‘prevention of animal cruelty’, as per the Concurrent List of Schedule VII to the Constitution.
  • Fundamental Rights: None of the guarantees contained in Part III of the Constitution are explicitly conferred on animals.
    • Article 14 (right to equality) and Article 21 (right to life and personal liberty) are bestowed on persons.
    •  “Persons” usually mean human beings, or associations of human beings, such as corporations, partnerships, trusts, and the like.
  • Directive Principles of State Policy: According to Article 48A, it is the responsibility of the State to improve the strength of animals and safeguard the wildlife of the country.
  • Fundamental Duties: According to Article 51A(g), it is the Fundamental Duty of every citizen to protect and improve forests and wildlife and to have compassion for all living creatures.

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Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Theni, Pudukkottai and Dindigul districts of Tamil Nadu known as?

The Jallikattu belt.

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