The Supreme Court on Monday declined to grant interim stay on Kambala, the annual buffalo race of Karnataka. A bench comprising A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud fixed March 12 for the final hearing on the plea by animal rights body PETA in the matter. Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra said the state ordinance allowing Kambala has lapsed and the buffalo race has no legal sanction at present.
Last year on January 28, the state cabinet had decided to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act,(Central Act 59 of 1960). The act was enacted to prevent the infliction of unnecessary cruelty and suffering on animals.
PETA and other animal rights’ body have opposed the upcoming Kambala festival on grounds of cruelty to animals. The Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO) approached the Supreme Court challenging the bill to legalise traditional buffalo races in Karnataka.
Bullock cart races are held in parts of north Karnataka and in the coastal districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada. The Kambala race, held between November and March, involves a pair of buffaloes tied to a plough and anchored by one person. They are made to run in parallel muddy tracks in a competition in which the fastest team wins. It is believed to be held to propitiate the gods for a good harvest, besides being a recreational sport for farmers.