Chief Secretary to the Govt., Chennai Tamilnadu & Others v/s Animal Welfare Board & Another

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 16 November 2016

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: Rohinton F.Nariman, Deepak Misra



Petitioner: Chief Secretary to the Govt., Chennai Tamilnadu Respondent: Animal Welfare Board & Another

SUBJECT: The judgment deals with animal welfare and rights.

FACTS: The ministry of Environment and Forests issued a notification under s.22 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960

(PCA Act). The said Notification stated “the Central Government, hereby specifies that the following animals shall not be exhibited or trained as performing animals, with effect from the date of publication of this notification, namely:-

  • Bears
  • Monkeys
  • Tigers
  • Panthers
  • Lions
  • Bulls.

This notice was challenged in the Bombay HC, which upheld it. Further, The Tamil Nadu

regulation of Jalikattu Act 2009 (Act 2009) was challenged in the Madras HC, which was also upheld.

The Supreme court dealt with these two cases in common, combining a writ petition filed by PETA, under article 32.


The Indian Constitution

  • Article 51-A-clause g: to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
    • Article 51- clause h: to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
    • Entry 14, list II: Agriculture, including agricultural education and research, protection against pests and prevention of plant diseases.
    • Entry 15, List II: Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal diseases; veterinary training and practice
    • Entry 17, list III: 17. Prevention of cruelty to animals.
    • Article 245, clause 1: Extent of laws made by Parliament and by the Legislatures of States
  • Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may make laws for the whole or any part of the territory of India, and the Legislature of a State may make laws for the whole or any part of the State
  • Section 3 : 3. Duties of persons having charge of animals.―It shall be the duty of every person having the care or charge of any animal to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of such animal and to prevent the infliction upon such animal of unnecessary pain or suffering.
  • Section 11: Treating animals cruelly.
    • Section 11(1)(m)(ii): solely with a view to providing entertainment—(ii) incites any animal to fight or bait any other animal

Section 11(3): (3) Nothing in this section shall apply to―

(a) the dehorning of cattle, or the castration or branding or nose-roping of any animal, in the prescribed]; or

  • the extermination or destruction of any animal under the authority of any law for the time being in force; or
  • any matter dealt with in Chapter IV; or
  • the commission or omission of any act in the course of the destruction or the preparation for destruction of any animal as food for mankind unless such destruction or preparation was accompanied by the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.
  • Section 21 and 22: “Exhibit” and “train” defined.―In this Chapter, “exhibit” means exhibit at any entertainment to which the public are admitted through sale of tickets and “train” means train for the purpose of any such exhibition, and the expressions “exhibitor” and “trainer” have respectively the corresponding meanings.

22. Restriction on exhibition and training of performing animals.―No person shall exhibit or train―

  • any performing animal unless he is registered in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter;
  • as a performing animal, any animal which the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify as an animal which shall not be exhibited or trained as a performing animal.
2009 Act
  • section 3: Section 3 of the 2009 Act treats conducting of Jallikattu as an “event”.
    • Section 4: Section 4 casts responsibility of the organizer who organises the event.
    • section 5: Section 5 requires the Collector of the district to make arrangements.
  1. Whether the The PCA Act and the 2009 Tamil Nadu Act 2009 are repugnant to each other or not?

Petitioner contention:

  • The two acts are not repugnant to each other as the 2009 Act does not indictate cruelty against the bull.
  • The law of repugnancy as mentioned in article 245(1) of the Indian constitution has been erroneously applied.
  • Jallikattu is an event associated with religion and culture and thus gets the protection under article 25.
  • Lastly, Jalikattu would fall within the ambit of entry 14 and 15 of list II of schedule 7, making it a state subject.
  • Requested the court to grant relief through the doctrine of pith and substance.
Respondant’s contention:
  • The two Acts are repugnant to each other. One deals with the protection of animals and protecting their life. Whereas the 2009 Act clearly gives the impression that it talks about using animals for human pleasure.
  • Both the Acts come under entry 17 of list III, concurrent list.
  • The preamble to the PCA Act lays the postulate that the purpose of the Act is to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and hence, the necessity was felt to amend the law relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals

The court’s view:

  • Taming of bulls cause considerable pain, stress and strain on the bulls. Thus, the court on evidence rejected the contention that bulls don’t suffer any cruelty at the hands of humans
  • There is a clear inconsistency between the two Acts. Moreover, both Acts are governed by the concurrent list and the argument of Act of 2009 falling under state list fails.
  • With respect to the petitioner’s argument regarding following Upanishad, the court quoting Isha-Upanishad stated, “”The universe along with its creatures belongs to the land. No creature is superior to any other. Human beings should not be above nature. Let no one species encroach over the rights and privileges of other species.”
  • Therefore, an irreconcilable distance exists between the two acts, making the 2009 Act repugnant.

CONCLUSION: Therefore, the court as upheld the right to life of an animal, on moral, ethical, biological and religious grounds. The court was of the view that animals cannot be tortured on the grounds of human pleasure.