The bans on cruel animal-based entertainment have been coming at us thick and fast lately. Norway’s first city council recently outlawed the use of wild animals in circuses – joining countries such as Bolivia, Peru, and Greece – while Connecticut brought in strong new regulations on the use of animals in performance in March. Animal advocacy groups have even put forward the idea of banning all wild and exotic animals from congested New York City!
And now India, which prohibited the use of elephants in circuses last November, has taken another step in the right direction by outlawing cruel bullfights and bullock-cart races, known as “jallikatu.”
On Wednesday, May 7, the Indian Supreme Court officially banned the “traditional” yet morally repugnant practice, stating that it violated the provisions of the 50-year old Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. Significantly, the court also favored constitutional status for animal rights, saying, “Parliament, it is expected, would elevate rights of animals to that of constitutional rights, as done by many (other) countries around the world, so as to protect their dignity and honor.”
Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, who authored the judgement, stated, “Studies indicate that rough and abusive handling of bulls compromise welfare and (increase) fear in bulls. Often, they are pushed, hit, prodded, abused, causing mental as well as physical harm.”
Indian animal protection groups, led by the Blue Cross of India, welcomed the court’s judgement. Nanditha Krishna, governing-body member of the Blue Cross and chairperson of Humane Society International/India, described the decision as “a landmark verdict.” She also thanked the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) and former Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh – who banned the use of bulls as performing animals in 2011 – for their tireless work on the jallikatu campaign.
“The AWBI, to its credit, refused to go along (with the continued toleration of jallitaku) and fought the Tamil Nadu government, the ‘Jallitaku’ Federation and the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ stand in the Supreme Court. By its historic verdict. the court has vindicated Mr Jairam Ramesh’s position and upheld the ban,” said Krishna.
Image source : Abhijit Bhuyan / Wikipedia Commons