New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to pass an interim order to stop the buffalo racing sport, Kambala in Karnataka. The Kambala race, held between November and March, involves a pair of buffaloes tied to a plough and anchored by one person. It coincides with the Pongal festivities.
An apex court bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud fixed March 12 for a final hearing on the plea by animal rights body PETA in the matter.
Urging the court to stop Kambala, senior counsel Siddharth Luthra appearing for the NGO People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told the bench that an ordinance backing Kambala has lapsed and there was no statutory regime supporting the animal sport.
Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand also informed the bench comprising Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, that the Karnataka Law bestowing sanctity to Kambala was pending before the President for his assent.
To pave the way for the festival, the state cabinet had on January 28, 2017 decided to amend the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, (Central Act 59 of 1960), enacted to prevent infliction of unnecessary cruelty and suffering on animals.
Bullock cart races are held in parts of north Karnataka and in the coastal districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada.
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.
PETA has opposed the Kambala festival on grounds of cruelty to animals. Calling for banning the sport, it said the agitators have taken a leaf out of the pro-Jallikattu protesters’ book.
Earlier, another animal rights’ body, Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations (FIAPO), had approached the apex court challenging the bill to legalise traditional buffalo races in Karnataka.