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The Supreme Court Friday asked the Tamil Nadu government why the time period for celebrating Jalli Kattu, or taming the bull festival usually celebrated during Pongal in January, had been increased to five months and who all stood to benefit from this.

It asked the state government to consider reducing the time period for celebrating Jalli Kattu from five months to two months and also favoured increasing the licence fee for it from Rs.2 lakh to Rs.10 lakh.

The apex court bench of Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice H.L. Gokhale asked the Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam to submit the Tamil Nadu government’s response in four weeks.

The Animal Welfare Board of India was also asked to respond to the law enacted by the state government to regulate Jalli Kattu as well as the rules framed under it.

The court pointed out that earlier Jalli Kattu was held as a religious festival during Pongal in January-February but now under the new Act the time period has been extended from January to May. The court said that if the number of months was increased to five then it would lose the character of the religious festival.

The court wanted to know from the state government why the festival time period was increased to five months. The court queried whether Jalli Kattu was an industry and who all benefited from it as the festival had now assumed a business proposition. The court pointed out that at many places Jalli Kattu was being held without licence.

The court said in Jalli Kattu the bulls were given alcohol to become ferocious. ‘You should have more concern about the lives of the human beings,’ the court observed.

The Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam told the court that the period of celebrating Jalli Kattu has been increased because the festivities depended on local traditions.

The Solicitor General told the court that after the law regulating Jalli Kattu was enacted, stringent conditions were imposed. He said that licences for 129 places were notified for holding Jalli Kattu but the festival was held only in 46 places.

Gopal Subramaniam said that the state government would also consider the court’s suggestions to reduce the time frame from five to two months and increase the licence fee as well.

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