Centre Pulls Up Animal Welfare Board Chairman For Moving SC To Challenge Jallikattu Decision

12/01/2016 8:42 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
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Indian youth attempt to catch a bull during a bull-taming festival known as Jallikattu at Palamedu Village near Madurai, some 500 kms south of Chennai, on January 16, 2011. The event was held as part of Tamil New Year 'Ponggal' celebrations. AFP/STR (Photo credit should read STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

The Animal Welfare Board of India's (AWBI) chairman Major General (Retd.) Dr.R. M. Kharb seems to have miffed the government for having done his job well. Three days after the Centre allowed bull taming sport Jallikattu to continue unhindered in Tamil Nadu, the AWBI, along with organisations like PETA, challenged the decision in the Supreme Court. It is being reported that the animal welfare body's move to defy the Centre has not gone down well with the government. As a result, several reports suggest, Kharb has been chastised by the ministry and may be asked to resign too.

According to a report on the DNA, the union environment ministry summoned Kharb and demanded to know why he had not resigned before challenging its decision to allow Jallikattu in court. Sources told the newspaper that there is no confirmed news of Kharb getting sacked, but the ministry has asked for an explanation from the chairman.

The environment ministry website notes: "The Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) is the nodal agency in the administrative structure of the Central Government for the planning, promotion, co-ordination and overseeing the implementation of India's environmental and forestry policies and programmes. Two statutory bodies viz, Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and Committee for the Purpose of Supervision and Control of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) have also been set up under this Act."

Which means, the board has been set up by the government itself to protect animals.

"I was called by some senior officials who asked as to why I did not resign before challenging the ministry's decision in the apex court. I have not been asked to step down, neither have I been issued any notice," Kharb told DNA.

He refrained from commenting on either the progress of their petition or his communication with the ministry to The Wire. However, he explained that he was only doing his job. Previously, Kharb had said that not only was the sport cruel to animals, people have also died by taking part in it. "Jallikattu puts the animal through unnecessary pain. We decided to go ahead with the petition in the Supreme Court against the notification keeping the mandate of the board in mind." Kharb told The Wire.

The Wire, however, said that sources in the ministry have told them that senior officials had called Kharb and vice chairperson Chinny Krishna and asked them to resign.

On 8 January, the Centre lifted a ban on bull taming and such similar sports that had been implemented in 2011. Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa had profusely thanked the union government and Prime Minister Modi soon after, saying the sport had 'great historical significance'.

She said, "I am very happy to learn that the Ministry of Environment, Forests ad Climate Change have issued a Notification dated 7.1.2016 that has paved a way for the conduct of the traditional sport of 'Jallikattu' in different parts of Tamil Nadu as part of Pongal festivities. You would recall that I have consistently taken up this issue with you."

However, on 11 January, the AWBI, along with PETA and another Bangalore-based NGO moved Supreme Court against the decision.

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