Animal Welfare Board of India vs Union of India (Challenge to the practice of Jallikattu) 

Author: Shreya, a student at The North Cap University 


This article tells one of the important landmark case of the Supreme Court. In this case, it was challenged before the court that the practice of jallikattu is right or wrong. This is in news because the Supreme Court upheld the amendments made by various states like Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Karnataka to the Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, allowing the traditional bull-taming sports of Jallikattu, (Kambala) Karnataka. 

What is meant by Jallikattu?

Jallikattu is the most famous traditional bull-taming sport of Tamil Nadu. In this sport, wild bull is released in the crowd and the interested participants attempt to control the bull or try to hold it as long as possible. 

It is celebrated in the month of January, during the harvest festival of Tamil, Pongal. 

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 

Nowadays, humans are becoming so selfish that they kill animals just for their own benefit and even eat them to fill their stomachs despite to respect towards them. To protect the animals from the cruelty of humans, this act was passed by Parliament of India in 1960. 

This an act to prevent pain and unnecessary suffering on animals and to amend the laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals. 

This act defines ‘animals’ as living creature other than humans. This act is applicable in whole India and violation of the rules will result in the punishment. 

The act contains the provisions regarding the showcase of the performing animals and offences committed against the animals.   

About the case: Animal Welfare Board of India vs Union of India


In this case, the primary problem revolves around the tradition sport bull-taming of Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu. The Jallikattu case has been significant for its legal implications and for controversial debates on the preservation of cultural traditions and the ethical treatment of animals.


  1. First issue of this case is the treatment of the bulls in the sports bull –taming events, amounting to cruelty towards the animals and breaking the provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, AWBI argued. 
  2. Second issue is that court has to determine whether the jallikattu met the legal standards for the animals or not?
  3. The third issue was raised that how to balance the cultural and religious practices with the prevention of cruelty to animals act. 
  4. The court had to consider constitutional principles, including the right to preserve/protect and practice one’s culture and traditions (Article 29) vs the state’s obligation to prevent cruelty to animals (Article 51A(g) of the Directive Principles of State Policy).
  5. The jallikattu event or sport had deep culture and religious practice for the supporters of the event and ban on this event will lead to widespread protest and hurt sentiment of the supporters.


In favour/respondents 

The state governments argues that:

  • The jallikattu is the most famous bull-taming sport and this sport is enjoyed and celebrated by people of Tamil Nadu irrespective of their cast, creed etc. This sport is deep rooted in the culture and religion of people of Tamil Nadu. 
  • Complete banning of this event will hurt the sentiments of the people or supporters of jallikattua and result in wide spread protest. 
  • Rather than complete banning, the sport can be reformed so that it can balance with prevention of cruelty to animals act. 
  • This event is taught in the schools especially high school as a curricular activity to preserve their cultural in future generations and ban on the event will considered as attack on their culture. 

In opposition/applicants

It is argued that:

  • Jallikattu result in many deaths and injuries of both humans and bulls or another animals in the state.
  • Unlike human beings, animals are also creatures on the earth and they also possesses freedom or liberty and are recognized by the constitution of India. 
  • In the bull-taming sports, tamers sometimes act aggressively towards the bulls and injured them badly.
  • Practice of jallikattu results in the violation of many provisions mentioned in the prevention of cruelty to animals act. 
  • They also argued that cultural and religious beliefs should not contravene the fundamental duty of the society as well as state. 


On May 18, the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that upheld the amendments made by the legislatures of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, and Karnataka to The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, allowing bull-taming sports like jallikattu and bullock-cart races. 

This bench of Supreme Court overruled the decision of two-bench judge who ordered to ban the sports like jallikattu on May 14 in the Welfare Board of India vs A. Nagaraja case. 

The Supreme Court also held that the state amendments in Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act of 2017 and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Conduct of Jallikattu) Rules of 2017 did not violate the Constitution. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q1. What is Jallikattu?

Ans. Jallikattu is famous traditional sports.

Q2. Which state celebrate Jallikattu as sports?

Ans. Many districts of Tamil Nadu.

Q3. Jallikattu is banned?

Ans. No, after the recent judgement of Supreme Court, Jallikattu is not ban. 

Q4. What is the purpose of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960?

Ans. The purpose of the act is to protect the animals from the cruelty nature of human beings. 

(Challenge to the practice of Jallikattu) 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *