In landmark judgement, the Supreme Court imposes complete ban on bullock cart races

SLP (C) 4268 of 2013 Khed Taluka Chalak Malak Sangh & Ors. Versus Smt. Gargi Gogoi & Ors. The Supreme Court has upheld the Bombay High Court Order dated 12.03.2012 and imposed a complete ban on the bullock cart races in the country. The SC said that bulls could not be used as performing animals, either for the Jallikattu or bullock-cart races.The Supreme Court, while deciding a group of matters, on the issue of the legality of the bullock-cart races being held almost every day in several states including Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, sided with the respondents HRLN and others, and ruled that holding of these races amounts to extreme cruelty and causes unnecessary pain to the animals and hence, it is prohibited under sections 11 and 22 of the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. The Court also expressed hope that the Parliament would elevate the status of rights to animals to constitutional rights, in tune with similar laws across the world. Holding that the rights guaranteed to the bulls could neither be taken away or curtailed, the court issued 12 declaration and directions saying that the five freedoms recognized by the World Health Organization of Animal Health (OIE) be read into the PCA Act, 1960, and same be protected and safeguarded by the central, state and union territory governments, and AWBI. The five freedoms include i) freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition; ii) freedom from fear and distress; iii) freedom from physical and thermal discomfort; iv) freedom from pain, injury and disease; and v) freedom to express normal patterns of behaviour. The court directed the AWBI and the governments to take steps to "prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on the animals, since their rights have been statutorily protected under Sections 3 and 11 of PCA Act". The AWBI was asked to ensure that the provision of PCA Act is scrupulously followed so that the person-in-charge of the animal "shall not incite any animal to fight against a human being or another animal". The court also said that for the dehorning, castration, branding or nose-roping of any animal, destruction of stray dogs in lethal chambers or extermination of any animal under the authority of any law should be done by not putting such animals to unnecessary pain and suffering and by adopting adequate scientific methods.