NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would refer to a five-judge Constitution Bench a batch of pleas challenging TN and Maharashtra laws allowing bull-taming sport jallikattu and bullock cart races.
A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice R F Nariman, while reserving its order, said the larger bench would decide whether the States have the legislative competence to make such laws on grounds that the sport came under the cultural right under Article 29 of the Constitution and can be protected constitutionally.
Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have amended the Central law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and allowed Jallikattu and bullock cart races in their states, respectively. The State laws have been challenged in the SC.
The issue whether the State laws were in consonance with the basic tenets of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, a Central legislation, would be tested. The SC referred to Article 25 (right to freedom of religion) and Article 29 (1) (protection of cultural and educational rights) of the Constitution and said they may not enable states to make such laws.
During the course of the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Tamil Nadu, submitted that Jallikattu is part of the culture and tradition of the State and hence protected under Article 29 of the Constitution. He also submitted that by amending the law, the State has not sanctioned cruelty and rules have been framed to prevent cruelty to bulls during the sport.