Supreme Court of India Animal Welfare Board Of India vs A. Nagaraja & Ors

 
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India:

REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5387 OF 2014

(@ Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.11686 of 2007)

Animal Welfare Board of India …. Appellant

Versus

A. Nagaraja & Ors. …. Respondents

WITH

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5388 OF 2014

(@ Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.10281 of 2009)

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 5389-5390 OF 2014

(@ Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos.18804-18805 of 2009)

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5391 OF 2014

(@ Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.13199 of 2012)

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5392 OF 2014

(@ Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.13200 of 2012)

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5393 OF 2014

(@ Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.4598 of 2013)

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5394 OF 2014

(@ Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 12789 of 2014) (@ SLP(C) CC…4268 of 2013)

WRIT PETITION (C) NO.145 OF 2011

AND

T.C. (C) Nos.84, 85, 86, 97, 98 and 127 of 2013

K.S. Radhakrishnan, J.

1. Leave granted.

2. We are, in these cases, concerned with an issue of seminal importance with regard to the Rights of Animals under our Constitution, laws, culture, tradition, religion and ethology, which we have to examine, in connection with the conduct of Jallikattu, Bullock-cart races etc. in the States of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, with particular reference to the provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (for short ‘the PCA Act’), the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 (for short “TNRJ Act�) and the notification dated 11.7.2011 issued by the Central Government under Section 22(ii) of the PCA Act.

3. We have two sets of cases here, one set challenges the Division Bench Judgment of the Madras High Court at Madurai dated 09.03.2007, filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India (for short “AWBI�), Writ Petition No. 145 of 2011 filed by an organisation called PETA, challenging the validity of TNRJ Act and few other writ petitions transferred from the Madras High Court at Madurai challenging/enforcing the validity of the MoEF Notification dated 11.07.2011 and another set of cases, like SLP No. 13199 of 2012, challenging the Division Bench judgment of the Bombay High Court dated 12.03.2012 upholding the MoEF Notification dated 11.07.2011 and the corrigendum issued by the Government of Maharashtra dated 24.08.2011 prohibiting all Bullock-cart races, games, training, exhibition etc. Review Petition No. 57 of 2012 was filed against the judgment of the Bombay High Court, which was dismissed by the High Court on 26.11.2012, against which SLP No. 4598 of 2013 has been filed.

4. ABWI, a statutory Board, established under Section 4 of the PCA Act for the promotion of animal welfare and for the purpose of protecting the animals from being subjected to unnecessary pain or suffering has taken up a specific stand that Jallikattu, Bull/Bullock-cart races etc., as such, conducted in the States of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra respectively, inherently violate the provisions of the PCA Act, particularly, Section 3, Sections 11(1)(a) & (m) and Section 22 of the PCA Act. ABWI, through its reports, affidavits and photographs, high-lighted the manner in which Jallikattu is being conducted, especially in the Southern Part of the State of Tamil Nadu, and how the bulls involved are physically and mentally tortured for human pleasure and enjoyment. Details have also been furnished by the 2nd respondent, in SLP No. 13199 of 2012, along with photographs explaining how the Bullock-cart race is being conducted in various parts of the State of Maharashtra and the torture and cruelty meted out to the bullocks. ABWI has taken up the stand that, by no stretch of imagination, it can be gainsaid that Jallikattu or Bullock-cart race conducted, as such, has any historical, cultural or religious significance, either in the State of Tamil Nadu or in the State of Maharashtra and, even assuming so, the welfare legislation like PCA Act would supersede the same, being a Parliamentary legislation. ABWI has also taken up the specific stand that the bulls involved in Jallikattu, Bullock-cart race etc. are not “performing animals� within the meaning of Sections 21 and 22 of the PCA Act and that the MoEF, in any view, was justified in issuing the notification dated 11.7.2011 banning the exhibition of Bulls or training them as performing animals on accepting the stand taken by it before this Court. Further, it has also taken up the stand that the TNRJ Act is repugnant to the provisions of the PCA Act and the rules made thereunder and State cannot give effect to it in the absence of the assent of the President under Article 254 of the Constitution of India. Further, ABWI also submits that the Bulls which are forced to participate in the race are subjected to considerable pain and suffering, which clearly violates Section 3 and Sections 11(1)(a) & (m) of the PCA Act read with Article 51A(g) and Article 21 of the Constitution of India and hence exhibition or training them as performing animals be completely banned.

5. Organizers of Jallikattu and Bullock-cart races, individually and collectively, took up the stand that these events take place at the end of harvest season (January and February) and sometimes during temple festivals which is traditionally and closely associated with village life, especially in the Southern Districts of the State of Tamil Nadu. Organizers of Bullock-cart races in the State of Maharashtra also took the stand that the same is going on for the last more than three hundred years by way of custom and tradition and that extreme care and protection are being taken not to cause any injury or pain to the bullocks which participate in the event. Organizers also submitted that such sport events attract large number of persons which generates revenue for the State as well as enjoyment to the participants. Further, it was also stated that no cruelty is meted out to the performing bulls in Bullock-cart races so as to violate Section 11(1)(a) of the PCA Act and the District Collector, Police Officials etc. are always on duty to prevent cruelty on animals. Further, it is also their stand that the sport events can only be regulated and not completely prohibited and the State of Tamil Nadu has already enacted the TNRJ Act, which takes care of the apprehensions expressed by the Board.

6. The State of Tamil Nadu has also taken up the stand that every effort shall be made to see that bulls are not subjected to any cruelty so as to violate the provisions of the PCA Act and the sport event can be regulated as per the provisions of the TNRJ Act. Further, it was also pointed out that the bulls taking part in the Jallikattu, Bullock-cart Race etc. are specifically identified, trained, nourished for the purpose of the said sport event and owners of Bulls spend considerable money for training, maintenance and upkeep of the bulls. Further, the State has also taken up the stand that the Bulls are “performing animals�, and since there is no sale of tickets in the events conducted, Section 22 will not apply, so also the notification dated 11.7.2011. State has also taken up the stand that complete ban on such races would not be in public interest which is being conducted after harvest season and sometimes during temple festivals as well. The State of Maharashtra has not challenged the judgment of the Bombay High Court and hence we have to take it that the State is in favour of banning the exhibition or training of Bulls, whether castrated or otherwise as performing animals.

7. MoEF, as early as on 2.3.1991, issued a notification under Section 22 of PCA Act banning training and exhibition of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and dogs, which was challenged by the Indian Circus Organization before the Delhi High Court but, later, a corrigendum was issued, whereby dogs were excluded from the notification. On the direction issued by the Delhi High Court, a Committee was constituted and, based on its report, a notification dated 14.10.1998 was issued excluding dogs from its purview, the legality of the notification was challenged before this Court in N. R. Nair Others v. Union of India and Others (2001) 6 SCC 84, which upheld the notification. Later, MoEF issued a fresh notification dated 11.7.2011, specifically including “Bulls� also, so as to ban their exhibition or training as performing animals, while this Court was seized of the matter.

8. MoEF has now abruptly taken up the stand that though “Bull� has been included in the list of animals, not to be exhibited or trained as “performing animal� vide Notification dated 11.07.2011, it has been pointed out that, in order to strike a balance and to safeguard the interest of all stakeholders, including animals, and keeping in mind the historical, cultural and religious significance of the event, and with a view to ensure that no unnecessary pain or suffering is caused to the animals, participants as well as spectators, the Government proposes to exempt bulls participating in Jallikattu in the State of Tamil Nadu from the purview of the Notification dated 11.07.2011, subject to the guidelines, copy of which has been provided along with the affidavit filed by the Deputy Secretary, MoEF.

9. Shri Raj Panjwani, learned senior counsel appearing for AWBI as well as for the Petitioner in Writ Petition No. 145 of 2011, submitted that the event Jallikattu, even if conducted following the TNJR Act, would still violate the provisions of PCA Act, especially Section 11(1)(a). Learned senior counsel submitted that Jallikattu, as an event, involves causing the Bull pain and suffering and cannot be free from cruelty and hence falls within the meaning of Section 11(1)(a). Further, it was pointed out that, during Jallikattu, the Bulls, it is observed, carry out a flight response, indicating both fear and pain and suffering. Shri Panjwani made considerable stress on the words “or otherwise� in Section 11(1)(a) and submitted that any act which...

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