The state cabinet on Thursday decided to appoint a cabinet sub-committee to study the draft of the amendment bill to revoke the ban on bullock-cart racing. The amendment bill is likely to be tabled in the state legislature next week. The committee will study bills passed by other states, the ruling by the Supreme Court, and the provisions to ensure that animals are not subjected to cruelty.
Maharashtra will be the third state to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, to legalise bullock-cart racing. The state had, last month, announced that it would present the bill in response to the demands raised for lifting the ban.
After bulls were included as performing animals in the ambit of the Act, bullock-cart races were banned in Maharashtra in 2011. Bullock-cart racing has been a popular centuries-old tradition in some parts of Maharashtra.
The committee, which will be headed by the animal husbandry minister, Mahadev Jankar, has been asked to submit its report next week, so that the bill can be passed before the budget session ends on April 7. Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil, Shiv Sena’s Shirur MP, BJP MLA Mahesh Landge,PWP leader Jayant Patil, and other elected representatives had pressed for the bill.
“We are not averse to the provisions for the action against cruelty to the bulls in the law itself, but the centuries-old tradition should not be banned,”Jayant Patil said. PETA India said it will write to the state to help them understand that the races are cruel and the state must prevent any harm to bullocks.
History of the ban
In 2011, the Ministry of Environment and Forest added bulls to its 1991 notification banning the training of bears, monkeys, tigers, panthers and dogs
In April 2014, emphasising the ‘historic, religious and cultural significance of the event’, Centre allowed use of bulls in Jallikattu by amending the list
On May 7, 2014, the Supreme Court passed a judgement in the favour of PETA and Animal Welfare Board of India, baning use of bulls in Jallikattu, races and bull fights.
In January 2016, the Centre revoked its ban on Jallikattu through a notification, though the exemption was subject to the condition that the bulls were not treated cruelly
In January 2016, the Supreme Court stayed Centre’s notification allowing Jallikattu, and issued a notice to the MoEF