The Supreme Court will on Monday hear a petition to strike down an ordinance passed by the Karnataka assembly in February allowing the use of bulls in the traditional Kambala races, a practice which animal rights activists say involves cruelty towards animals.
Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) investigated the treatment of the animals during Kambala races held earlier this year.
“This investigation proves yet again that buffalo bulls are terrorised in cruel Kambala events – and no amount of regulation can ever change that, which is why the Supreme Court banned these races in the first place,” Nikunj Sharma, PETA’s Public Policy Lead said.
“Buffalo bulls deserve and need the Supreme Court’s full protection again,” he added.
In its landmark judgment in 2014, the top court banned the use of bulls in races noting that “use of bulls in such events severely harmed the animals and constituted an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to the Animals Act.”
The court was hearing a petition against the use of bulls in Jallikattu, a traditional sport in Tamil Nadu. However, Tamil Nadu promulgated an ordinance to allow resumption of the sport following protests.
In July, former president Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance 2017 clearing the way for resuming Kambala, which was stopped by Karnataka high court in 2016, referring to the 2014 judgement of the Supreme Court.
States have the power to enact laws on this subject as long as they do not violate the centre laws. The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (PCA) prohibits the use of animals for entertainment or display. However, animals considered “performance animals,” are exempt from these protections.
Other traditional sports under the scanner
- Cockfights in Andhra Pradesh
- Camel racing in Pushkar
- Dogfighting on the outskirts of Delhi
- Bulbul fighting in Assam
Here are other traditional sports that animal rights activists say are cruel:
Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu
This traditional sport dates back to 400 BC and is organised during the harvest festival of Pongal in January. It involves releasing a bull into a crowd of people and those participating have to grab its hump and ride it for as long as possible.
Legal status: The sport was banned by the top court in 2014. In January this year, the SC rejected petitions to exempt Jallikattu from the provisions of the PCA. Tamil Nadu then passed an ordinance that was later passed as an amendment to the PCA, after getting the approval of the President.
Bullock cart racing in Maharashtra
Bullock cart racing known as Bailgada Sharyat or Shankarpat is held in some parts of Maharashtra.
Legal status: Maharashtra also passed a bill amending the PCA in April this year. However, the Bombay high court retained a ban on bullock cart racing, asking the state government to approach the Supreme Court.
Kambala races in Karnataka
The tradition sport is popular in Dakshin Kannada and Udupi districts of coastal Karnataka. Two pairs of buffaloes are tied to ploughs and raced on slush tracks. The races are usually held between November and March every year.
Legal status: The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance 2017 was passed in July. The Supreme Court is hearing a petition challenging the amendment.