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Supreme Court on Friday directed that the Animal Welfare Board and others be made parties to a petition seeking stay on a recent order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court banning traditional cock fight games during the Sankranti festival in the state.

“The petitioner is directed to implead Animal Welfare Board (AWB) as a party to the Special Leave Petition,” a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice A K Sikri said.

The bench, which has now fixed the matter for hearing on Monday, allowed the plea of AWB that as a statutory body, it should have been made a necessary party.

Senior advocate Anand Grover said that an earlier apex court judgement prohibits all such activities as they subject animals and birds to cruelty and had sought impleadment of his client as a party in the petition. The court allowed his plea.

Yesterday, the court had agreed to hear today the plea filed by some people of the region including a social worker.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court had in its order on a PIL on December 29 last directed the Superintendent of Police to take action against organising cock fights with betting, sale of liquor, gambling and subjecting animals and birds to cruelty during the Sankranti festival from January 10-16 in West Godavari district.

The High court had banned the games on the PIL, which had alleged that it was against the law safeguarding animals from torture.

Seeking stay on High Court order till hearing and final disposal of the plea, petitioners said the Sankranti (Pongal festival) was celebrated in all regions of Andhra Pradesh including in Krishna, West Godavari and East Godavari districts.

Justifying cock fights, the petition said “In this festival season, all the family members who stay abroad gather at their hometowns for a period of five days. The cock fights are part of the tradition and culture, without which the festival loses its significance.”

“These cocks are especially brought up in their family like sons, for cock fight in the villages during the course of the year and waits for this Sankranti festival which is held for five days.”

The petitioners also said if the traditional cock fight is stopped then a special breed of cocks fed and brought up for the purpose would “collapse” and this would not be in the interest of environmental science.

“Further, the audience who visits (sic) the state during the Sankranti festival from across the globe, comes to see the special breed of cock fight and if the same is not continued then the Sankranti festival looses its significance,” the plea said.

It further claimed that during the last two years i.e 2012-13 nearly 3452 foreigners (NRI’s) came to these district and spend nearly Rs 600 crores to see the cock fight and in 2013-14 nearly 3561 foreigners (NRI’s) came and spend nearly Rs 634 crores.


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