Case Comment on Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja & Ors. (the Jallikattu Judgment)

By Renuka Sara Abraham, Christ University

Editor’s Note: This article presents a case comment on the recent judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja & Ors. In this case, the Supreme Court baned the use of bulls and bullocks in “entertainment activities” such as Jallikattu and bullock cart racing, among others.


The Supreme Court of India purported a milestone judgment in the matter titled “Animal Welfare Board of India vs. A. Nagaraja & Ors. ((Civil Appeal No. 5387 of 2014) in the Supreme Court of India” [i], and partnered appeals and petitions, on the 7th of May, 2014. The use of bulls and bullocks in exhibitions, for example, Jallikattu, bullock cart racing, and so on was banned. Bulls and other animals were used as a part of festivities taking place in the states of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra, in a physically and mentally torturing manner for human pleasure and enjoyment. The Animal Welfare Board of India (hereafter referred to as AWBI) took the case to the Supreme Court, which is considering an inside and out boycott on Jallikattu as a result of the mercilessness to animals and the risk to open security included. Villagers toss themselves on top of the unnerved animals in an exertion to “agreeable” them and case the prize.

This particular case had two sets of cases. One challenging the Division Bench Judgment of the Madras High Court, challenging the validity of the Tamil Nadu Registration of Jallikattu Act and few writ petitions challenging the validity of Ministry of Environment and Forests(hereafter referred to as MoEF) Notification dated 11.07.2011 and another case challenging the Division Bench Judgment of the Bombay High Court upholding the MoEF Notification. Maintaining animal rights and bringing up the “untold cold-bloodedness” the bovines are subjected to; the Supreme Court on banned hundreds of year’s old Jallikattu- bullfights and bullock-cart racing composed amid celebrations in Tamil Nadu and neighboring states.

Altogether, the seat headed by Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan favored hoisting the privileges of the animals to “constitutional rights”. “The Parliament, it is normal, would lift privileges of animals to that of protected rights, as done by numerous different nations, to ensure their nobility and honor,” the seat said. The court directed governments and AWBI to take steps to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals saying “all living creatures, including animals, have inherent dignity and a right to live peacefully and right to protect their well-being”.


The term Jallikattu was coined in this era. ‘Jalli’ referred to the silver or gold coins tied to the bulls’ horns. [ii]Wounds and even killings happen in Jallikattu. In 2004, no less than 5 individuals were accounted for dead and a few hundred harmed in different towns. Two hundred have passed on in the course of the last two decades. Unlike in Spanish bullfighting, the bull is not executed. There are infrequently any losses endured by the bulls. A few animal activists item to this perilous diversion each year, however so far these protests have been futile.[iii]

In India, there is the Central enactment “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,1960(hereafter referred to as PCA Act)” which manages how tormenting against animals must be precluded and further the Tamil Nadu government has passed the Tamil Nadu Registration of Jallikattu Act, 2009(hereafter referred to as TNRJ Act) on the grounds that Tamil Nadu had communicated its hesitance to the thought of banning the diversion expressing that slants of local sentiments will be harmed. The Supreme Court had previously banned the practice in January 2008, but reversed its order four days later, saying the sport could be allowed if certain guidelines were followed.

MoEF as ahead of schedule as on 2.3.1991, issued a notice under Section 22 of PCA[iv] Act banning preparing and show of bears, monkeys, tigers, and dogs, which was challenged by the Indian Circus Organization in the witness of the Delhi High Court yet, later, a corrigendum was issued, whereby dogs were excluded from the notification. On the heading issued by the Delhi High Court, a Committee was constituted and, taking into account its report, a warning dated 14.10.1998 was issued barring dogs from its domain, the lawfulness of the notice was challenged in N. R. Nair Others vs. Union of India and Others[v], which upheld the notification. Later, MoEF issued a new notice dated 11.7.2011, particularly including bulls additionally, so as to ban their exhibition or training as performing animals.


The judgment starts with a summary of the case; the arguments from both sides; the behaviour of the bulls and a description of Jallikattu. It quotes the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) investigation on January 2013 Jallikattu, but this report is not an investigative report but an inquisitive report. The Supreme Case for this situation banned the exercises, for example, Jallikattu and Bullock-cart racing, which physically and mentally tormented animals, expressing that animals excessively would feel agony and that they would respond in a flight reaction manner to keep away from fear. They further held that onlookers excessively would be harmed, since the Supreme Courts prior judgment expressing to utilize at least 8 feet high blockades were not emulated.

Further, the court held that Section 3 of the PCA Act would be abused since the exercises were dispensing pain on the animals. The court likewise considered whether exercises, for example, Jallikattu was a necessity under Section 11(3) of the same Act and in this matter as was previously held in the case of Bhuri Nath and Others vs. The State of Jammu and Kashmir & Others. Here, the court held that excitement, presentation or entertainment don’t fall under the exempted classifications under Section 11(3) and was not a need. The court additionally considered the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the TNRJ Act and held that the Act tried to safeguard aged society and custom and not religious noteworthiness. Bull as an animal was likewise the vehicle utilized by Lord Shiva, consequently the court brought out the misinterpretations brought out by the individuals regarding the role of the animal. The Court has further held that AWBI was right in its stand that Jallikattu and the Bullock-cart race did infact violate Sec 3, Sec 11(1)(a) and Sec 11(1)(m)(ii) of the PCA Act.

The main question to be answered is whether the judgment is a good one or not? The court’s decision was in fact appropriate. There have been so many instances of death and damage to property that the move of the Supreme Court has certain aspects good in the eyes of law. Jallikattu in simple words is a celebration of cruelty. Jallikattu is cruel to animals and also poses a significant threat to public safety. In one four-day period in January 2011, 215 people, including 154 spectators, sustained injuries during Jallikattu events. Two people have even died. Supporters of the Act assert that regulations lessen mercilessness to animals, yet the regulations being referred to arrangement basically with the booking of an occasion, setting up blockades and constraining the quantity of members. Regulations can’t refute the key cold-bloodedness of Jallikattu, and the Animal Welfare Board of India brings up that even these fundamental regulations go unenforced and do little to address the misery of bulls. Furthermore, the Act goes against the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which prohibits the misuse of animals.

In spite of the fact that the bulls are not slaughtered they experience the trauma of being pursued and hopped upon by hordes of men who attempt to cut them down. Also if this isn’t sufficient the bulls are unsettled by putting lemon juice and bean stew powder at them, being starved furthermore given liquor. Numerous a period their tails are cut too which irritates them much more. The bulls are raised exclusively for this occasion.

A 2011 PETA examination uncovered ill-use of animals at Jallikattu occasions in Alanganatham, Avaniapuram and Palamedu in Madurai. Examiners recorded bulls being tied so firmly that they encountered extreme uneasiness and agony, being hit with clench hands, having their tails bent and pulled and in addition being bounced on and wrestled to the ground. Bulls were unnerved, confused and fomented by the shouting swarms, amplifiers and forcefulness of the men gathering them, hopping on them and pulling them. Bulls endeavoring to escape the invasion ran carelessly into wall. Even Former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh has stated that the Jallikattu ban by the Supreme Court stating that it will put an end to a barbaric practice.[vi]

But the flip side to the issue would also need to be considered. What the judgment reflects is a distinction in the middle of country and urban India. The Indian Government and its establishments have a pioneer cause, and even laws ordered after 1947 are focused around frontier points of view and elitism. The PCA Act is one such. The Supreme Court judgment on Jallikattu, in light of this PCA Act, has an overwhelming pilgrim inclination as it expect that rustic individuals are certainly primitive and need to be controlled by urban illuminated India. The legal assessment of the PCA Act is an address on how the Court has an ethical obligation to forestall savagery; it presumes that Jallikattu coordinators are denying the privileges of animals and blames the coordinators as savage people.

Unexpectedly, the judgment maintains the executing of animals for sustenance by the principle of need and slaughtering for religion as need.  It contrasts bulls and performing animals like those in a carnival and presumes that bulls are performing animals. The coordinators challenged that no tickets were sold and thus Jallikattu and the bulls utilized within these celebrations couldn’t be termed performing animals, however the Court fails to take this aspect into consideration. The Supreme Court, instead of banning the sport, could have imposed stringent conditions for its safe conduct.


The court in the same case considered the rights of animals as a “Constitutional Rights”. The Court also brought into the aspect of Article 51-A (g)[vii]&(h)[viii] ,which are Fundamental Duties on the part of the citizens. The impact was the case would be tremendous on the States, especially those of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. The States revenue has decreased since large number of spectators does come to attend the Jallikattu every year. The step was memorable and demonstrates the political will of the parliamentarians of Catalonia. The message is loud and clear, individuals can’t dispense agony and enduring on a panicked and befuddledanimal all for the sake of safeguarding social legacy. It is indeed a ‘dangerous sport’, both for the bulls and the people watching it. The question whether the law or a custom which has been prevailing for hundreds of years must prevail or not is the issue in this case. Definitely the law must prevail. Considering the fact that thousands of people are injured and that lives are lost and moreover the fact that brutal cruelty and harassment are shown to these voiceless creatures of the earth, the decision of the court can be justified to ban the much renounced “Jallikattu and Bullock Cart racing”.

Edited by Hariharan Kumar

[i]Animal Welfare Board of India vs. A. Nagaraja&Ors., Civil Appeal No. 5387 of 2014

[ii] Buzzing with Bull Talk,

[iii]“PETA founder held in India over bullfight protest”. Reuters.

[iv]Restriction on exhibition and training of performing animals : No person shall exhibit or train

(i) any performing animal unless he is registered in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter;

(ii) as a performing animal, any animal which the Central Government may, by notification in the official gazette, specify as an animal which shall not be exhibited or trained as a performing animal.

[v] N. R. Nair Others vs. Union of India and Others (2001) 6 SCC 84


[vii] (g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;

[viii] (h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform

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