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Although the Central Government’s nod to Tamilnadu’s Government for promulgation of an ordinance to overcome Supreme Courts order banning Jallikattu on the ground of cruelty to animals may have diluted the high octane agitation for the time being yet it has unfolded many substantive questions to be addressed with an interesting nexus of values and facts, the juridical and non juridical sense of right and wrong.
In the name of tradition and culture, can we allow something detrimental to the interest of animals?

How many of us know about Jallikattu with its historical and Socio cultural backdrop?
Has the Honourable Supreme Court delivered a judgement without in depth analysis of what, how and why of Jallikattu ?
Is PETA making undue hue and cry over the issue and pursuing some hidden agenda which tend to inhibit the age old custom designed to preserve and promote premium livestock in the region to the betterment of all and to open the doors surreptitiously for artificial insemination which many MNC’s have mastered ?

Whatever be the case, certain basic principles are required to be upheld while dealing with such cases.
We need to be extremely cautious while dealing with the subject matters having strong cultural and religious ethos and underpinnings.
As far as possible, such matters should be decided with a bottom up consensual approach.
Secondly, the doctrine of necessity and proportion should be applied to avoid undesirable extremities. As for instance, instead of banning it altogether, one could have gone for a gradual moderation of undesirable component of such ceremony because the situation here was not so precarious as to warrant complete ban.
We also need to ensure that cruelty to animal is construed with proper and totalistic understanding of the whole phenomenon through the prism of the science and wisdom which may be hidden behind the ostensible discomfort to the animal.
The increasing judicial intervention on such issues runs the risk of not only undermining its authority but also leading to the eruption of an unending series of cases seeking ban or abolition of ban on one or other such practices of which there is no dearth in our country.
In Maharastra, one of such cases was addressed with lot of prudence where honorable High court did ensure that Dahi Handi ceremony could be continued provided certain safeguards were incorporated.
Governance in real sense is more about choosing an appropriate course of action amid competing standards of ethics to accomplish public welfare and development.

Sajjan Pratap Singh
Director, IIIASA