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Panneerselvam Asks PM for Ordinance on Jallikattu, A-G Says TN Can Have Own Law

Chennai: As protests demanding Jallikattu swelled on the streets of Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the national capital, urging the Centre to bring in an ordinance to sidestep the Supreme Court-imposed ban on the bull-taming sport.

Modi expressed inability on the part of the Centre in promulgating an ordinance in the conduct of the bull-taming sport but expressed support for steps taken by Tamil Nadu in this regard.

ALSO READ: Why a Jallikattu Ordinance Now Doesn’t Make Legal Sense

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, however, said the state government has the power to enact a law to treat Jallikattu as a traditional sport.

Rohatgi, who defended in the Supreme Court the Centre’s stand allowing use of bulls in events like Jallikattu, said that as far as sports is concerned, it is within the exclusive jurisdiction of respective state governments and the Centre has no power on it.

“That is not a power with the Centre at all because the Constitution demarcates the role of the Centre and states… As far as sports are concerned, it is in the exclusive jurisdiction of the state,” he said.

“Now the state could consider making it a law treating it as a traditional sport, but the state must keep in mind while framing such a law that there is no cruelty attached to the sport… I mean, you have bull fights in Spain. Those are cases where bulls are killed,” the top law officer said.

On January 8 last year, the Centre had issued a notification lifting the ban on Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu with certain restrictions.

The notification was challenged in the apex court by the Animal Welfare Board of India, People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, a Bangalore-based NGO and others.

The court has reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions challenging the notification allowing the sport.

The apex court had earlier questioned the Centre for its January 2016 notification allowing the use of bulls in events like Jallikattu, saying that its 2014 verdict banning the use of the animals cannot be “negated”.

ALSO READ: The Jallikattu Ban: What Are The Options Now?

After meeting Modi, Panneerselvam said the state government will soon take steps to enable holding of Jallikattu with support from the Centre.

Later, the Chief Minister deferred his return to Chennai and held consultations with legal experts, including state Additional Advocate General (AAG) Subramonium Prasad. He is understood to have discussed the option of the state issuing an ordinance for ensuring holding of the event traditionally held during Pongal.

(PETA) India said it may take the legal route if such an ordinance is brought in. “Our campaign is against cruelty towards all animals. We will consult our lawyers and take a decision if there is an ordinance,” PETA spokesperson Manilal Valliyate told PTI.

ALSO READ: PETA May Take Legal Route if Centre Brings Ordinance on Jallikattu

At the epicentre of the agitation, Marina Beach in Chennai, protesters demanded a rollback of the ban for the third straight day on Thursday.

Traffic came to a virtual standstill on arterial Kamarajar Salai abutting the beach almost throughout the day with the agitators spilling over on to the road. On the sands of the beach, agitators split into groups, formed circles, shouted slogans, played music, singing songs and held skits in support of Jallikattu.

Protests continued to be held in other parts of the state as well, including Madurai, Salem, Coimbatore, Karur, Tiruchirappalli and Erode, besides neighbouring Puducherry by students of colleges and universities. Rail rokos were held in places, including Salem and Chengelpet.

Expressing solidarity with the agitators, Oscar winning music maestro AR Rahman tweeted, “I am fasting tomorrow to support the spirit of Tamilnadu.”

I’m fasting tomorrow to support the spirit of

— A.R.Rahman (@arrahman) January 19, 2017

Five-time world chess champion Viswanathan Anand, too, extended his support to holding the bull-taming sport, saying it was a “cultural symbol”.

The state is now bracing for a shutdown on Friday, with Tamil Nadu traders’ federation, unions of auto-rickshaw and taxis operators, and cinema houses calling for a bandh. The opposition DMK has announced a rail roko.

(With agency inputs)