Use of bulls as performing animals banned: SC

The Supreme Court banned using bulls as performing animals either for Jallikattu events or bullock-cart races across the country and hoped Parliament would elevate the rights of animals to that of constitutional rights.

“AWBI [Animal Welfare Board of India] is right in its stand that Jallikattu, Bullock-cart Race and such events per se violate Sections 3, 11(1)(a) and 11(1)(m)(ii) of PCA [Prevention of Cruelty to Animals] Act and hence we uphold the notification dated 11.7.2011 issued by the Central Government, consequently, Bulls cannot be used as performing animals, either for the Jallikattu events or Bullock-cart Races in the State of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or elsewhere in the country”, the Court said.

The Court said, “Forcing a bull and keeping it in the waiting area for hours and subjecting it to the scorching sun is not for the animal’s well-being. Forcing and pulling the bull by a nose rope into the narrow, closed enclosure or ‘vadi vassal’ (entry point), subjecting it to all forms of torture, fear, pain and suffering by forcing it to go the arena and also over-powering it in the arena by bull tamers, are not for the well-being of the animal.”

“Animal also has honour and dignity which cannot be arbitrarily deprived of and its rights and privacy have to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks,” the Court said adding the “Court also has a duty under the doctrine of parens patriae to take care of the rights of animals since they are unable to take care of themselves as against human beings”.

The Court upheld a July 11, 2011, notification of the ministry of environment and forest that banned exhibition or training of bulls as performing animals.

The Court made the following directions: –

(1) We declare that the rights guaranteed to the Bulls under Sections 3 and 11 of PCA Act read with Articles 51A(g) & (h) are cannot be taken away or curtailed, except under Sections 11(3) and 28 of PCA Act.

(2) We declare that the five freedoms, referred to earlier be read into Sections 3 and 11 of PCA Act, be protected and safeguarded by the States, Central Government, Union Territories (in short “Governments”), MoEF and AWBI.

(3) AWBI and Governments are directed to take appropriate steps to see that the persons-in-charge or care of animals, take reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of animals.

(4) AWBI and Governments are directed to take steps to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on the animals, since their rights have been statutorily protected under Sections 3 and 11 of PCA Act.

(5) AWBI is also directed to ensure that the provisions of Section 11(1)(m)(ii) scrupulously followed, meaning thereby, that the person-incharge or care of the animal shall not incite any animal to fight against a human being or another animal.

(6) AWBI and the Governments would also see that even in cases where Section 11(3) is involved, the animals be not put to unnecessary pain and suffering and adequate and scientific methods be adopted to achieve the same.

(7) AWBI and the Governments should take steps to impart education in relation to human treatment of animals in accordance with Section 9(k) inculcating the spirit of Articles 51A(g) & (h) of the Constitution.

(8) Parliament is expected to make proper amendment of the PCA Act to provide an effective deterrent to achieve the object and purpose of the Act and for violation of Section 11, adequate penalties and punishments should be imposed.

(9) Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many of the countries around the world, so as to protect their dignity and honour.

(10) The Governments would see that if the provisions of the PCA Act and the declarations and the directions issued by this Court are not properly and effectively complied with, disciplinary action be taken against the erring officials so that the purpose and object of PCA Act could be achieved.

(11) TNRJ Act is found repugnant to PCA Act, which is a welfare legislation, hence held constitutionally void, being violative or Article 254(1) of the Constitution of India.

(12) AWBI is directed to take effective and speedy steps to implement the provisions of PCA Act in consultation with SPCA and make periodical reports to the Governments and if any violation is noticed, the Governments should take steps to remedy the same, including appropriate follow-up action.

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