BENGALURU: Observing that tradition cannot overtake the law, the Karnataka High Court on Tuesday restrained organisers from performing Kambala race in coastal region.
An interim order was passed to this effect by the division bench of Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee and Justice R B Budihal after hearing the public interest litigation filed against Kambala race by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, New Delhi.
"It is true that Kambala is continuing for a long period. But tradition cannot overtake the law. The rights of the animals are statutorily protected under the provisions of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960," the division bench observed.
Senior counsels representing Kambala organisers like Udupi Kambala Samithi, vehemently supported the Kambala. They argued that Kambala is a traditional buffalo race being held for the last 700 years, and has become a part and parcel of the culture of the farmers of the coastal region. Buffalos are reared, maintained and trained for the race, they argued.
The division bench said that all animals are not anatomically designed to be performing animals. Normally, animal welfare laws have to be interpreted keeping in mind the welfare of those animals and the special best interest, subject just exceptions out of necessity. Activities causing pain and suffering to animals must be avoided. The buffalos could be utilised for farming, the bench said.
The division bench also said, "We do not see any justifiable exemption in conducting Kambala, as these animals are not meant for racing. We do not think we could permit the organisations to hold Kambala, in view of the judgment of Supreme Court in a case of Animal Welfare Board of India v/s Nagaraja and others reported in 2014. Therefore, the respondents (Kambala organisers) are restrained, by an order of injunction from performing Kambala during the pendency of the writ petition."
The bench directed the Kambala organisers to file statement of objections if not already filed, be filed within four weeks.
Earlier, the Advocate General had submitted that the government initially issued an order dated December 17, 2015, permitting the organisers to hold Kambala race upon observation of certain conditions. However, the order was withdrawn later, as the government disapproved of it.
He further submits that, if the court permits, the government has no objection to Kambala race, if it falls within the parameters of the guidelines formulated by the Supreme Court of India.
It may be noted that, on last Friday, the division bench ordered the State government to ensure that the Kambala race is not held in Udupi district till November 26.