The Centre on Friday allowed the conduct of jallikattu in Tamil Nadu by altering a 2011 Ministry of Environment notification by exempting the sport from performances for which the bulls should not be used.
The Supreme Court had in May 2014 upheld a 2011 notification by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to include bulls in the category of animals that shall not be used as performing animals, meaning that bulls could not be exhibited or trained as performing animals for Jallikattu events. The present notification by the Ministry of Environment and Forests clears the ground for Jallikattu events by making an exception for these and some other traditional bull-related events in other parts of India.
This has happened after pressure from political opinion in Tamil Nadu, including a letter by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take steps to permit the traditional events. The prompt action of the Centre is being seen as a bid to be standing by traditional customs in the face of opposition by voices who saw the event as cruelty to animals, thus also making a political gesture to a state where the BJP as a national party has practically no political presence.
Superseding the 2011 notification, the present one, while underlining that bulls shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animals, says: “provided that bulls may continue to be exhibited or trained as a performing animal, at events such as Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and bullock cart races in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Punjab, Haryana, Kerala and Gujarat in the manner by the customs of any community or practiced traditionally under the customs or a part of culture…"
It however adds a few guidelines to regulate it: these events shall take place in these areas at such places as the district magistrate or collector explicitly permits, and that the bull once out of the enclosure shall be tamed within a radial distance of 15 metres.