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Jallikattu: Supreme Court refuses to vacate stay

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to revoke the ban on Jallikattu, the bull taming sport in Tamil Nadu. It dismissed petitions supporting conduct of the sport, which was effectively banned by the top court yesterday for this Pongal season that begins later this week. The petitioner had argued the game is part of "Tamil Pride" and all arrangements had been made for its conduct during the Pongal festival.

The controversial sport, opposed by animal rights activists and championed by politicians, was put on hold by the top court yesterday just five days after the union government lifted a ban on it. By fixing the next hearing for March, the court effectively ensured that the sport cannot be held this year - it's usually held to celebrate the winter harvest.

State elections in Tamil Nadu are due later this year, and all parties have been urging the Centre to sanction the sport. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, who, like other politicians, had lobbied heavily for the event to be allowed, wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to use an executive order or ordinance to allow the sport to be held. DMK leader M Karunanidhi also issued a similar appeal to the prime minister.

"A lot of safeguards are in place and the event must be allowed," the Tamil Nadu government argued in the top court yesterday, adding that the sport "has been in vogue for centuries". The Centre said that animal rights activists have "no fundamental right" to challenge the sport. The Supreme Court will hear the matter next on March 15.

The centuries-old tradition of Jallikattu, which means "bull-taming" sees bulls let loose as young men compete to subdue them. The event was cancelled last year for the first time after the previous UPA government imposed a ban citing cruelty.

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