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SC allows conduct of cockfights in ‘traditional manner’ in coastal Andhra

The Supreme Court said cockfights could be conducted in a traditional way without tying knives or blades to the legs and wings of the roosters and also without indulging in gambling or betting.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2018 12:13 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
Cockfight,Andhra,Coastal
A cockfight near Vijayawada in Krishna district.(HT FILE PHOTO)

Decks have been cleared for the conduct of cockfights in coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh during the three-day Sankranti festival beginning Saturday, with the Supreme Court on Friday allowing their customary winter sport in “traditional way”.

Acting on a special leave petition filed by senior BJP leader and businessman Kanumuri Ramakrishnam Raju from Bhimavaram in West Godavari district, a division bench of the Supreme Court said the interim order issued by it last year was still in force and as such, there was no need to issue any fresh order.

“In last year’s order, the Supreme Court said cockfights could be conducted in a traditional way without tying knives or blades to the legs and wings of the roosters and also without indulging in gambling or betting. The apex court clearly prohibited police authorities from entering the premises of people to confiscate roosters ready for cockfights or arrest the people,” Raju said.

The Supreme Court, however, refused to stay the Andhra Pradesh high court order issued last week banning cock-fights during Sankranti this year and asking the Andhra Pradesh police to take penal action against those indulging in cockfights.

“We are organising cock fights strictly according to the Supreme Court guidelines. The police can take action if they have any information about gambling or betting or tying of knives and blades to the roosters,” Raju said.

State minister for human resources development, Ganta Srinivasa Rao also said that there was nothing wrong in conducting cockfights, as it was a traditional sport in the East and West Godavari districts. “We can enjoy the cockfights as long as it does not involve cruelty towards the birds and betting in the name of sport,” he said.

Interestingly, officials have promulgated prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC in East and West Godavari districts on the pretext that there could be large scale betting by the people at the arenas of cockfights where people assemble.

“This is ridiculous. Sankranti is a festival where all families staying in different parts of the country come to their native villages and gather at one place. Will the police arrest all of them?” Raju asked.

He pointed out that nearly 30 policemen were posted at the residence of his friend who had invited his friends and relatives for breakfast on Saturday morning, suspecting that there could be cockfights there. “This is nothing but infringing into our privacy and also spoiling the festive atmosphere,” Raju alleged.

The Humane Society International (HSI) India, which has been fighting against the cockfights, in a statement said irrespective of whether the birds were fitted with knives or whether ancillary activities of betting, gambling take place, the practice of animal fights is prohibited by law.

“The courts have time and again upheld this prohibition on cockfights,” and asked the people to report to the nearest police station if they come across any cockfights in their area.

First Published: Jan 13, 2018 12:13 IST