The Supreme Court in an order permitted the resumption of the bullock cart race in Maharashtra after four years on the same conditions and regulations as mentioned in the state amendments to Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. However, it is requested that all these races be conducted in strict compliance with the terms and conditions laid down by the State Government.
In 2014 Supreme Court had banned Jallikattu, bull-race and bullock-cart races across the country accepting that these violated provisions of the PCA Act. However, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu had amended the PCA Act to allow regulated bull races, which are also under challenge now and pending in SC for over 3 years.
The BJP-led government in 2017 had passed the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Maharashtra Amendment) Bill by amending the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960). There were provisions to ensure there is no injury to the participating animals. Organizers violating the rules will face up to three years of imprisonment or have to pay up to Rs 5 lakh as a fine.
The legislation was sent to the Union Home Minister and to the President of India in August 2017 for consent. After the government had received the consent, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) approached the Bombay High Court challenging the law. The high court upheld the petitioner’s plea and stayed the implementation of the Act. Subsequently, bullock cart race lovers filed a petition challenging the high court order in the apex court. However, SC ruled that all petitions in this regard will be heard by a Constitution Bench.
Bullock-cart race lovers believe that there is a systematic attack on Hindu or native Indian traditions of late. You name the festival, and in the name of feminism, environment or animal rights, the festivals are being attacked. Buffalo fight during Magh Bihu in Assam, buffalo race called Kampala in Karnataka, cock fight in Andhra/Telangana and much more and Baligadi race in Maharashtra are traditional animal sports which were celebrated for ages.
It is almost impossible for a bull in Jallikattu to die. If at all any injuries or death happen, the chances are that they happen to the humans trying to tame the bull. For just 15 to 30 seconds of interaction with humans, a bull is taken care of for the entire year like a celebrity. All these animals in the sport are an asset to the owner, there is nothing wrong when the bull is pampered for the whole year, fed well and treated royally, for a few seconds of running amidst the crowd.
In our country leather goods are not banned, meat-eating is permissible, artificial breeding and all other atrocities are allowed, milling of cats and dogs is business, mulching cows with machines is allowed, several species are going extinct but we don’t care. The people who rear bulls don’t find much remuneration. This is one of the only things a bull helps them besides breeding. Besides, this keeps the bull in its true flora. The bull is meant to be a powerful animal. That is why the bulls toiled in the field. This is not animal abuse. This is the animal’s natural habit over hundreds of years.
If injury and death is a reason to ban a sport, then Cricket and Football would have to be inspected. We know that people have died on Cricket pitches or football grounds many times, making those games more dangerous for lives, compared to Jallikattu! Remember Raman Lamba, Darryn Randall or Philip Huges?
Take any human sports, danger is everywhere be it stunts in films or sports. If they are approved what is the point in banning animal sports? No circus was ever banned where wildlife is at stake. All cultures throughout history have used animals in the context of sport and entertainment, from Roman chariot racing up to present-day hunting, racing, and circuses. What we need is a good rulebook to monitor the conditions of the animals involved. Or if we are really sensitive about animals in general, then stop caging parrots and birds and home, stop petting dogs and cats and treat them like humans and try to discipline them, stop keeping fish in limited pond water, stop eating flesh and meat. Stop killing rats, stop caging animals. Even if you care for your pets, possessing them against the nature of their living is cruel.