Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja

Animal Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 07/05/2014

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: K.S. Radhakrishnan, Pinaki Chandra Ghose



Petitioner: Animal Welfare Board of India

Respondent: A. Nagaraja

SUBJECT: The judgment brings out the rights of animals under the Constitution.

FACTS: The petitioners in the instant case challenged the validity of a government notification dated 11.7.2011 which prohibited “Jallikattu” a sport that involve bulls which is conducted in Alanganallur Tamil Nadu and Bullock-cart races which are conducted in Maharashtra stating that it contravened various provisions of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.


The Indian Constitution:

  • Article 136: Notwithstanding anything in this Chapter, the Supreme Court may, in its discretion, grant special leave to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or order in any cause or matter passed or made by any court or tribunal in the territory of India

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act:

  • Section 3: It shall be the duty of every person having the care or charge of any animal to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of such animal and to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary pain or suffering.
    • Section 11: Treating animals cruelly

(1)(a) beats, kicks, over-rides, over-drives, over-loads, tortures or otherwise treats any animal so as to subject it to unnecessary pain or suffering or causes or, being the owner permits, any animals to be so treated


1. Whether the notification dated 11.7.2011 is constitutionally valid?


The petitioners contended that,

  • Animal Welfare Board of India is a statutory body enacted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act(PCA). Sports like Jallikattu and Bullock-cart races traumatises the lives of Bulls both physically and mentally.
  • Pictures submitted by the petitioners clearly indicate that, animal badly tortured for human pleasures and enjoyment.
  • The animal welfare legislations like PCA outweigh customs even it is followed for ages now.

However, the respondents contended that,

  • Jallikattu take place at the end of harvest season (January and February) and sometimes during temple festivals which is traditionally and closely associated with village life, especially in the Southern Districts of the State of Tamil Nadu. Similarly the organizers of Bullock-cart races in the State of Maharashtra also took the stand that the same is going on for the last more than three hundred years by way of custom and tradition and that extreme care and protection are being taken not to cause any injury or pain to the bullocks which participate in the event.
    • The sports generate revenue for the State
    • The District Collector, Police Officials etc. are always on duty to prevent cruelty on animals whenever such events happen.
    • As per Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 the State can only regulate the event and cannot completely prohibit it.
    • The bulls taking part in the Jallikattu, Bullock-cart Race etc. are specifically identified, trained, nourished for the purpose of the said sport event and owners of Bulls spend considerable money for training, maintenance and upkeep of the bulls.

Upon hearing the parties to the case, the Court held that, the Board was right in its stand as Jallikattu and Bullock-cart race violates the provisions of PCA and causes grave cruelty to bulls. The Court directed Parliament to make necessary amendments in PCA and declared the Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act, 2009 as void, thereby upholding the validity of the government notification issued on 11.7.2011.

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