Jallikattu Bill a Limp Half-Measure That Leaves Scope for Cruelty

TN govt’s ordinance legitimizing Jallikattu is replete with inherent conflicts which are against the Constitution.

3 min read
Jallikattu Bill a Limp Half-Measure  That Leaves Scope for Cruelty
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The Tamil Nadu Governor promulgated an ordinance on Tuesday legitimizing the controversial sport of Jallikattu. This came after a Supreme Court judgment prohibited the same.

Consequentially, the State government has issued an amendment to the State Prevention of Cruelty Act, providing rules governing the sport in the State. The rules come across as a consolation, to pacify the projected dismay concerning the sport – aiming to strike a balance between the supporters and the human right activists opposing the sport.

A close perusal of the rules however, brings out their inherent conflict. These rules are against Constitutional provisions, thereby failing to achieve their purpose.


The federal structure of the Constitution allows both Centre and State to legislate on matters in the Concurrent List (so long as there does not exist any conflict between the two).

If a conflict does exist, the central law is given precedence over the state law. ‘Cruelty to animals’ is the subject matter of the Concurrent List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, which means both the Centre and the State can legislate on the same.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is the central law in furthering the said entry, whereas the Prevention of Cruelty Rules, 2017 is the state law on the same. The conflict in the two arises in terms of punishment, as the former prescribes a punishment of three months whereas the latter provides a mere punishment of disbarment from the sport.

Therefore, by virtue of the constitutional scheme, the punishment imposed by the latter becomes redundant.


However, the aforementioned is not the only discrepancy existing amidst the rules. Other, more shocking shortcomings, also exists in the rules which prevent them from achieving their underlying purpose.

Scope for Cruelty Remains

Cruelty has been defined as any form of infliction of pain on animals. The rules propose multiple safeguards to ensure that cruelty is not meted out to the participating bulls. However, they leave scope of injury in the form of contact with the proposed concrete spectator area.

Such legitimized contact not only injures the bulls but also inflicts pain on them, resulting in cruelty.


Killing the Joy of the ‘Sport’

Jallikattu stands for ‘hugging/embracing the bull’. The spectators and organizers supposedly enjoy seeing an enraged bull chasing humans. And it was to satiate this desire, that acts like rubbing chilli powder on private parts, beating the bull, and other forms of torture were imposed so that the bulls are enraged enough to entertain the audience.

The new rules, on the contrary, take this away from the audience by reducing such activities and mandating only minimum contact with the bulls. This prohibition may come across as a kill-joy to the spectators, who may continue imposing such cruelty on the bulls illegally.

Therefore, while much absurdity can be observed with regard to the ‘safeguard provisions’ undertaken by the State government, one thing is blatantly clear: In its half-hearted attempt to silence the angry opposition to the legalization of the sport, the authorities have not only ignored logic but have also disrespected constitutional principles which are of paramount importance.


(The author is a law student at the National Law University, Jodhpur. He can be reached @stripathi07. This is a personal blog and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)

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