The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the notification by the Central government that had lifted the ban on Jallikattu, a bull-taming sport practised in Tamil Nadu.
The Narendra Modi government had on 7 January made amendments to a 2011 notification by the environment ministry, allowing bulls to be used for Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu and for bullock cart races in states such as Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Kerala.
Animal welfare activists had slammed the move to allow Jallikattu again, while Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had welcomed the Centre's decision.
The Animal Welfare Board of India had moved the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the government's order, backed by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and several other animal rights groups.
The apex court on Tuesday issued a notice to the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government on the petitions and asked them to file their responses within four weeks, Press Trust of India reported.
Jallikattu is a traditional sport that has gone on for several centuries during the Pongal harvest festival in Tamil Nadu, in which bulls are chased by large crowds of men who attempt to tame the animals. SEE PHOTOS of abuse of bulls during Jallikattu.
Poorva Joshipura, the India head for PETA, called the decision a 'partial victory'.
"We are delighted for the bulls that will be spared the abuse that Jallikattu entails. But the stay on the festival is only for now and our fight continues. Hence, I call it a partial victory," Joshipura told IBTimes India.
"We will continue our fight until the Supreme Court confirms once again that Jallikattu and bull races should be relegated to the history books," she added.
S Krishna, vice-chairperson of the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), hoped that the ban would not be challenged again.
"This was entirely a political move by the government. They were trading the bull for the ballot," Krishna told IBTimes India, referring to the upcoming assembly elections in Tamil Nadu.
"I hope the issue will die down after the elections are over," he said.