Traditional Practices v/s Animal Rights

lawzmag.comThe greatness of nation is judged by the way its animals are treated Mahatma Gandhi

In the recent past, the Supreme Court upheld rights of animals and birds to lead a life of ‘’intrinsic worth, honour and dignity”, even at the cost of traditional faith and practices of human beings. In the wake of Supreme Court judgment, the present paper is to through some light on traditional practices of human beings v. Animal rights.

Traditional sports, rituals involving animals are an integral and customary practice of many communities in rural parts of India during festival time. Jallikattu also known as Manju Virattu [running of bulls] is a cultural celebration of certain Tamil communities that has been practiced for more than 20 centuries. In jallikattu, bulls are left loose into an arena where men are challenged to chase and tame the animal.

Buffalo racing or Kambala is an annual festival organised by agrarian families after the harvest of rabhi crop in Dakshina kannada, Udupi in Karnataka. It is a buffalo race in paddy fields filled with slush but in the last 50 years kambala sport has turned in to a betting game. Cock fighting are Kolikatte is held after festivals like Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh & Telangana. It is also organized on few occasions in the vicinity of temples in some parts of Karnataka. The practice of cock fighting is synonymous with blood bath where organisers and participants cheer the cruel fight laced with sharp knives and fighting to death. Traditional cock fight has become a money minting and * Principal, V S R Law College, Ballari betting game. Some communities of south India hold Ram fights during dasara. Kichchu haisuvudu  is a ritual in Mysore region observed during Makara sankranthi where cattle, bull and cow are made to jump over fire.

Traditional sports, rituals involving animals are an integral and customary practice of many communities in rural parts of India during festival time. Jallikattu also known as Manju Virattu [running of bulls] is a cultural celebration of certain Tamil communities that has been practiced for more than 20 centuries. In jallikattu, bulls are left loose into an arena where men are challenged to chase and tame the animal.

In many events involved with animal sports, animals are abused, tortured, taunted with chillies flung in their eyes, doped on liquor, subjected to rough treatment and death. Age old traditional sports for the vested interest turned in to betting games against to the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty against Animals Act 1960.

The Supreme Court heard a flood of cases dealing with the rights of animals ranging from bulls, elephants, horses, dogs to even exotic birds. Apex court observed that the country cannot “import Roman Gladiator- type Sport” as it is against a culture of compassion towards animals. Bulls could not be used as performing animals, either for jallikattu event are bullock-cart races in the state of Tami Nadu, Maharastra or elsewhere in the country. Apex court declared regulation of jallikattu act. 2009 as unconstitutional being violative of article 254(1) of Indian Constitution in 2014.

In animal welfare board of India versus A. Nagaraja the Supreme Court held bulls have the fundamental right under article 21 of the Indian Constitution to live in a healthy and clean atmosphere, not to be beaten, kicked, bitten, tortured, piled with alcohol by humans and right to life under article 21 is stretched to include “Every Species”. In short Supreme Court declared that animals have right of protection from human excesses.

On the other way Article 29(1) of Indian Constitution guaranties to any section of citizens residing in any part of India having distinct cultural tradition of its own to practice and right to conserve the same. They have fundamental right to preserve the same. But every fundamental right is not absolute in the same way this right is also subjected to reasonable restrictions arising from issues of morality, health and public order.

The Apex court observed that the country cannot ‘import Roman Gladiator- type Sport’ as it is against the Indian culture of compassion towards animals.

Sport and Games are for entertainment. Sports covered by entry 33 of list II (sate list) and fall within the domain of state list. It is the exclusive privilege  of state legislature to make law relating to sports within the state list. Blanket ban on an ancient sport practices involved with culture & religion becomes un constitutional as per article 29(1) but proper regulation and check on such malpractices is very crucial in the interest of animal rights.

Hence doctrine of proportionality would necessarily applied when the issue relates to fundamental rights of human beings and animal rights. But in case proper regulation becomes impossible,animal lives could be at stake. In the name of sports subjecting animals to cruelty is inhuman, barbaric & uncivilized. It is the fundamental duty of every citizen of Indian to have compassion for all living creatures according to Art 51A(g). Organising of or participating in or inciting any animal fight is a cognizable offence under Sec 11(1) m & 11 (1) n of PCA Act 1960. Duty of citizens is to uphold laws that prevent cruelty against animals.

Dr. K.Rajani Kumari

5 thoughts on “Traditional Practices v/s Animal Rights”

  1. manya says:

    Good article

  2. fagun says:

    Very informative

  3. anubhav says:

    nice one

  4. neha says:

    Well written

  5. mona says:

    I like your site its well designed

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