NEW DELHI -- In a huge relief to animal rights activists, the Supreme Court has stayed the Modi government's decision to lift the ban on Jallikattu, a bull taming sport, which is very popular during the festival of Pongal in Tamil Nadu.
The apex court today heard petitions filed by animal rights groups, including PETA India and People for Animals, challenging the Central Government's notification on January 7, allowing the bull taming sport.
The Congress Party-led UPA government had banned Jallikattu and bullock cart races on July 11, 2011 and enforced in 2014 after the prohibition was upheld by the Supreme Court.
Those critical of the Bharatiya Janata Party's government decision to lift the ban, accused the ruling party at the Centre and regional parties of political opportunism in the run up to the state election.
While the government has argued that Jallikattu is not like bull fighting in Spain, where matadors kill the animal, activists countered that bull taming is extremely cruel.
"Before being sent to the arena, they (bulls) are provoked, tortured, threatened, starved, administered alcohol and inflicted with pain to make them violent and anguished," Compassion Unlimited Plus Action, a non-profit organisation, said in its petition to the Supreme Court.
"As a result of these events, the bull suffers from severe forms of physical and mental injuries and even death," it said.
The decision to lift the ban was welcomed by the ruling party, AIADMK, as well as the opposition DMK in the state. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa profusely thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the Central Government's notification.
"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," she said.
The Supreme Court will now hear the matter in February.
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