The Supreme Court today said that just because the bull-taming sport of Jallikattu is a centuries-old tradition, it can't be justified.
Rubbishing the Tamil Nadu government’s plea that the ban on Jallikattu should be lifted because it is a centuries old tradition, the bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Rohinton F Nariman said, "Your argument doesn't hold any water. In 1899, ten thousand girls below 12 years of age were married. Should we allow it today because it was a tradition at that time?”
"The mere presence of tradition can't justify practices," the court said.
The court's strong response was after Tamil Nadu argued that Jallikattu - the mostly southern bull-racing sport - should be permitted as it showcases a cultural tradition that has been part of the custom and culture of people of the state for 5,000 years.
The Tamil Nadu government had stated the example of Spain Senate which decided that bull-fighting in Spain would be considered a cultural heritage when it was "far more cruel" in nature.
The apex court fixed August 30 for final hearing of the matter to decide on the Constitutional validity of Jallikattu.
It further said that no adjournments will be granted in the case after it commences the final hearing in the matter.
The apex court remained unimpressed with the contention that Jallikattu was not a fight between bulls and humans but a game where the participants are required to embrace the running bulls by hanging on to their hump as long as possible and that the men are unarmed.
In January this year, the Environment Ministry issued a notification allowing Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. But the Supreme Court had stayed the notification and declined to vacate its order barring the bull taming sport held during Pongal festival.
Jallikattu, an ancient sport, is held in rural parts of Tamil Nadu during Pongal festival. It involves young men clinging on to the hump of bulls to win prize money.
Many NGOs and animal rights activists have slammed the state government for executing cruelty towards animal in the name of tradition.