IN a major relief to lakhs of bulls who are subjected to torture and pain for races, the Supreme Court on May 7, banned the bullock cart races in Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu’s centuries-old Jallikattu bull fights.
A special bench of Justices K S Panicker Radhakrishnan and Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose heard the final arguments of all the parties on April 24. The justices on May 7 upheld the Bombay High Court’s judgment banning bullock cart races and Central Government notification banning performance of bulls.
The honourable justices have also reportedly directed the Central Government to amend the existing Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960 to match it to the current time. They have also reportedly suggested that animals are entitled to rights as humans are in the Constitution of India.
The four petitions challenging the Bombay High Court’s order dated March 12, 2011 which banned bullock cart races was filed by MP Shivaji Adhalrao Patil, Khed Taluka Chalak Malak Sangh and Prabhakar Sapate.
These matters were tagged with the petitions of Tamil Nadu’s bull taming sport called jallikattu since all these matters stemmed from the central government notification banning exhibition and training of bull as a performing animal.
On February 15, 2013, the counsel of Maharashtra State Government stated that “they support the races but also understand that cruelty towards animals is not acceptable. Therefore we have formulated certain guidelines which can be considered by the court.” The Coram allowed the races provided the guidelines in its interim order are followed.
|Separate track for each bullock cart|
|No whipping or inducing pain or injury to the bull|
|Veterinary doctor to inspect bulls before the races to ensure good physical condition|
|Offenders to be penalized under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960|
|The veterinary doctors in association with NGOs to videograph races|
|Organisers need to inform District Collector and the concerned police station in writing at least ten days prior to the races|
|The Committee to Monitor Animal Welfare Laws to be informed about the races|
|District administration responsible for implementation of these guidelines and safety of animals and spectators|
The petitioners claimed that bullock cart races are an age old tradition which takes place only on certain festivals, there is no cruelty inflicted on the animals and that it is means for entertainment for the poor farmers.
To which the respondent’s senior advocate, Colin Gonsalves showed the court, photos gathered from different districts of Maharashtra. The photos showed:
- Bulls stuffed into tempos like commodities with little space to move violating the Transport Animal Rules, 1978.
- Before the races bulls are lined up and whipped incessantly in a process called ‘tapavane’ (warming)
- 10-15 men use extreme force, beat and whip the bull and pull their nose harness for a simple task like attaching the bulls to the cart.
- Men are specifically employed to beat and whip the animals into submission. Some men are positioned all along the track and some follow the bullock carts on motor bikes.
- Twisting, pulling and biting of bull’s tails by men was a common cruelty noticed resulting in serious injuries to the tail- tail bone fractured, tail bone broken, tail cut, etc.
- The drivers electrocuting the bulls with a device similar to a taser gun, the drivers squeezing the testicles of the bulls,
- Due to the extreme beating, whipping, prodding, etc. bruises, wounds, cuts are seen on animals.
- The bulls are also seen bleeding from their nose due to extreme pulling of nose harness.
- The animals are made to stand in the scorching hot sun for hours before and after the races. The bullocks showing signs of heat stroke when they are panting heavily and frothing.