In a relief to Jallikattu supporters, the Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to stay the new legislation passed recently by the Tamil Nadu assembly but warned the state government not to allow commotion on the streets, reminding that law and order was its prime duty.
The apex court also permitted the Centre to withdraw the January 7, 2016 notification allowing Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu.
“What was the need for the situation? Why does this situation crop up? There was a situation which needed to be controlled. Please tell your executive that maintaining law and order situation is its prime duty. You please convey this,” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R F Nariman told the advocates appearing for Tamil Nadu.
The apex court permitted animal rights bodies and other individuals to amend their pending petitions for challenging the new legislation.
During the hearing, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi said the Centre has filed an interlocutory application seeking to withdraw the January 7, 2016 notification and stated that petitions challenging it had become infructous.
Animal rights organisations which have challenged the notification opposed Centre’s plea and said the application to withdraw the notification was not maintainable at this stage when the court has reserved its order on December 7, 2016.
“Notification is an executive act and legislature has given power to the executive to do that. There was a notification, which we have stayed. Now there is a legislation which we will deal with,” the bench said.
The Attorney General said the notification is a delegated legislation and petitions challenging it can no more be sustained and the parties could file fresh pleas challenging the new law.
To this, the bench said it was upto the petitioners to either file fresh writ petitions or file interim applications amending the prayers in writ petitions.
Rohatgi then said the parties should be asked to approach the High Court as the challenge is now to the new act enacted by the state government.
“The Supreme Court should not entertain the petitions and petitioners should be asked to approach the High Court which has the jurisdiction over the the local law of the state,” he said.
The apex court, while asking the the Animal rights groups about the grounds of challenge to the new law passed by the assembly, told the Attorney General, “Every now and then local laws are being challenged in Supreme Court. Since the 2014 judgement was passed by the court, we will not relegate them to the high court”.
Some of the animal right groups said the state government has not taken out the very basis of the 2014 judgement and had over reached it by changing the definition of Jallikattu.
The apex court then asked state government counsels, senior advocate K Parasaran and Rakesh Dwivedi, to spell out the objects of the new law.
Parasaran said the objective of new law was an amendment to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, so as to preserve the cultural heritage of the Tamil Nadu and ensure the survival and well-being of the native breed of bulls.
The bench referred to the idea behind the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and said there should not be any cruelty towards animals.
The Attorney General responded by saying the same law “permits slaughtering of animals” for religious purposes and also allows sacrifice of animals through ‘Halal’.
To this, the bench said that it is because of “doctrine of necessity” and added the regulation should be conscious of the fact that when you kill the animal, pain should not be caused to it.
With regard to the law and order situation, the apex court reminded the senior lawyers about their constitutional duty and asked them to convey to the state government to maintain law and order strictly.
Parasaran said initially everything was peaceful, but then something happend. Another senior advocate C S Vaidyanathan said the people have the right to express freely and demand a legislation.
The bench said no one said that people cannot fight for a better law but the problem there was no need for commotion in which people died.
Several lawyers then told the bench that there was no death and the protest was peaceful.
BJP leader Subramaniam Swamy who sought intervention in the matter said two people had died and the protest had actually turned violent in which police stations were set on fire. He told the bench to ask Tamil Nadu government for a status report.
The bench asked the animal rights groups and individuals to file their amended petitions within two weeks and state government to file responses in six weeks.
It clarified that all intervention applications will be dealt with after the amended petitions are filed and the matter taken up for hearing.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment), Act, 2017 piloted by Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, was unanimously adopted on January 23 by a voice vote in the assembly after a brief debate.
Nearly 70 caveats including that of the state government were filed in the Supreme Court seeking prior hearing if pleas challenging the new legislation allowing Jallikattu came up for consideration.
The apex court has agreed to hear on the pleas of AWBI and other animal rights organisations challenging the new law passed by Tamil Nadu Assembly to allow Jallikattu in the state.