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.
- 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.