A man tries to tame a bull during Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu.Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court on Thursday (January 12) dismissed a plea that sought to revoke the ban on Jallikattu, two days ahead of the Pongal celebrations in Tamil Nadu. The decision prompted MK Stalin-led DMK to announce statewide protests against the Tamil Nadu government and the Centre over the issue of allowing the bull-taming sport. 

The apex court has also said that it would not be able to pass a judgement bfore Saturday, which is when Pongal celebrations will begin in the state. It added that it cannot hear the petition challenging the ban because it is currently in the process of passing a judgement on the validity of a notification issued by the Centre allowing the sport.

The SC dismissed the plea, urging it to pass a judgement allowing the use of bulls for the Jallikattu events before Saturday (January 14), saying it was "unfair to ask bench to pass order" in the next two days. The apex court added that no one could ask it to hasten the process. 

The judgement comes a day after AIADMK General Secretary Sasikala Natarajan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to legalise Jallikattu in the state. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam had also promised that the event would be held this year during the Pongal celebrations. The state government, in reaction to the SC ruling, said everyone in the state wanted the sport of Jallikattu to be held this year.

The SC had banned Jallikattu and bullock cart races in May 2014, saying the animals have rights against torture. It said:"We cannot import Roman Gladiator type sport here. One can use computer for indulging in bull fighting. Why tame bulls for it?"

"Forcing a bull and keeping it in the waiting area for hours and subjecting it to the scorching sun is not for the animal's well-being. Forcing and pulling the bull by a nose rope into the narrow, closed enclosure or 'vadi vassal' (entry point), subjecting it to all forms of torture, fear, pain and suffering by forcing it to go the arena and also over-powering it in the arena by bull-tamers, are not for the well-being of the animal," the bench had said.

Political parties have been requesting the Centre and the state government to take up measures to allow people to organise the sport in Tamil Nadu. People have also held protests in the state in favour of the sport. 

Natarajan, in her letter to PM Modi on January 11, wrote: "Jallikattu is a traditional sporting event of Tamil Nadu and forms and essential part of the Pongal celebrations. The bulls specially reared for the purpose are tamed by the ardent youths and this sport is not in the least cruel to animals, unlike sporting events including horses, camels, and other animals."

The state government also requested the Centre to pass an ordinance that allows the sport to be held in the state. The Central government had said on Wednesday (Jan 11) that "things are ready" on its side but it would wait for the apex court to pass an order and hoped that the court would do justice to the people of Tamil Nadu by allowing them to hold Jallikattu.