SC refers 'jallikattu' matter to Constitution bench
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday referred the pleas related to 'jallikattu' to a five-judge Constitution bench which would decide if the bull-taming sport fell under cultural rights or perpetuated cruelty to animals.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice R F Nariman said the petitions challenging the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, needed to be decided by a larger bench since they involved substantial questions relating to interpretation of the Constitution. The bench framed five questions to be adjudicated upon by the larger bench and said the papers be placed before the chief justice to constitute a bench of five judges.
The petitions, including one filed by animal rights body PETA, have challenged the state law that allowed the bull- taming sport in Tamil Nadu. Framing the questions for the larger bench, the two-judge bench said it needed to be tested if the amendment Act "perpetuates cruelty to animals" and "can it, therefore, be said to be a measure of prevention of cruelty to animals".
The court asked, "Is it colourable legislation which does not relate to any Entry in the State List or Entry 17 of the Concurrent List?"
Another question framed by the bench was whether the amendment Act be stated to be part of cultural heritage of the people of Tamil Nadu, as claimed by the state, so as to receive the protection of Article 29 (protection of interests of minorities) of the Constitution.
"Is the Tamil Nadu amendment Act, in pith and substance, to ensure the survival and well-being of the native breed of bulls? Is the Act, in pith and substance, relatable to Article 48 (organisation of agriculture and animal husbandry) of the Constitution of India?," it said.
The larger bench will also determine if the state law went contrary to provisions of Article 51 which deals with fundamental duty to protect and improve natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and was violative of Articles 14 (equality before law) and 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution.
The two-judge bench also framed a question for the larger bench as to whether the amendment Act was directly contrary to the apex court's earlier judgement in the 'jallikattu' matter.