Supreme Court Admits Petition Filed by PETA India Which Challenges the Legality of Karnataka Ordinance Allowing Kambala

New Delhi – The Supreme Court of India today while admitting the petition filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India seeking direction from the court to strike down the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance, 2017 that allows kambala (buffalo races) and other bull-cart races in the state, issued a notice to the Centre and Karnataka government asking them to appear in the matter  on 13th November, 2017. Senior advocate Mr. Siddharth Luthra appeared for PETA India.

In its 7 May 2014 judgment, the Supreme Court of India banned jallikattu, bullock-cart races, and kambala events. The judgement upheld the Constitution of India read with the central Parliament enacted legislation under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and provided animals with the fundamental right to be treated with compassion and dignity and to be free from unnecessary pain and suffering. In its petition, PETA India pointed out that the Supreme Court already ruled that bulls, including buffaloes, are not anatomically suited to racing and that inherently cruel practices, such as kambala, and jallikattu that cause animals nothing but excruciating fear, pain, suffering, distress, and anguish cannot be purported to promote tradition and culture, the stated intent of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Karnataka Amendment) Ordinance, 2017.

“Kambala and other bull races events use fear and pain to make animals race. The buffaloes and other bulls are beaten, have their tailbones twisted and broken, and are yanked by their nose ropes to force them to participate in Kambala and other bull racing events”, says PETA India Lead Public Policy Nikunj Sharma. “The Honourable Supreme Court recognised in its 2014 judgment that buffaloes and other bulls are unsuitable for racing.”

The 2014 and 2015 Animal Welfare Board of India inspection reports of Kambala events contain a scientific assessment of the welfare of buffaloes when they are forced to participate in such events, including photographic evidence and a description of the different forms of cruelty inflicted on them, such as verbal and physical abuse – including hitting them, slapping them on the face, violently pulling on their thick nose ropes (in some cases two or three nose ropes inserted through the same hole in their nasal septum), pushing and pulling them, overpowering them, pulling their tails, and restricting their head movements using a wooden pole tied to their horns. Many buffaloes were observed frothing at the mouth and salivating heavily, and they had increased respiration rates upon finishing the race, demonstrating that they are anatomically unfit for running and that they have poor thermoregulatory mechanism.

In response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Ajay Marathe in which PETA filed an intervention application, the High Court of Bombay recentlypassed an order stating that it is bound by the observations and views of the 2014 Supreme Court judgment that banned kambala and other bullock cart races across the country.

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