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To ban or not to ban: How the ancient sport of Jallikattu (bull-taming) is being regulated across India

Published 20 February 2017 | Authored by: Aahna Mehrotra Anurag Tandon

As Southern India's most important cultural festival, Pongal,[1] gets underway this year, the sport of Jallikattu, seems poised to resume after a 7-year legal battle including a ban during last year's festival. Like similar battles in Spain, the fight to end Jallikattu has been led by local and international animal rights groups against those wanting to uphold long held religious and cultural practices. The battles have also played out larger political tensions between legislatures and the courts.

The article explores the legal and political arguments that have engulfed the sport over the last 7 years. A comparative analysis has been undertaken with the sport of bull fighting as carried out in Spain, which analysis includes the similarity in arguments taken in favour of the observance of the sport in their respective jurisdiction. Specifically, it looks at:

  • What is the sport of Jallikattu and what is its cultural significance?
  • A chronology of events and legal proceedings relating to the regulation and temporary banning of the sport;
  • The recent widespread protests to reinstate the sport;
  • A comparison to the situation of bull-fighting in Spain;
  • Authors’ comments 

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About the Author

Aahna Mehrotra

Aahna Mehrotra

Ms. Aahna Mehrotra was admitted to practice in India in May, 2011 and currently heads the Sports and Gaming Laws department at TMT Law Practice, a full service law firm with 9 offices across India.

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Anurag Tandon

Anurag Tandon

Anurag is an Associate in the Sports Law department at DPSA-TMT. DPSA-TMT is a merged entity of DPSA Legal and TMT Law Practice, founded in October, 2016. 

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