Jellikettu, the Taming Animal Sport, Allowed in Tamil Nadu

The Supreme Court on May 18, 2023, upheld the Tamil Nadu government’s law allowing bull-taming sport ‘Jallikattu’ in the state.


The Bench led by Justice K M Joseph said that they would not disrupt the view of the legislature and since legislature has taken a view that, it is part of the cultural heritage of the state. In the preamble, it is declared as a part of culture and heritage of TN, the bench said.

In 2017, the Tamil Nadu government came up with an ordinance amending the central Act and allowing Jallikattu in the state; the President later ratified this. The Apex Court ruled that the amendments, made in 2017, were “valid legislations”. It further said that jallikattu issue was “debatable”, and must ultimately be decided by the House of the People (LokSabha). “Making this decision requires social and cultural analysis in greater detail, and such an exercise “cannot be undertaken by the judiciary”, the Bench said.

The five-judge Bench overruled the view taken by a two-judge Bench of the court in its 2014 ruling in ‘Welfare Board of India v. A. Nagaraja’, banning such sports including jallikattu.


Reacting to the verdict, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister in a tweet said, “the verdict delivered by the Supreme Court bench that there is no ban on holding jallikattu, a sport reflecting Tamils’ bravery and culture is worth engraving in gold in the history of Tamil Nadu.”

It was a “huge victory” to the legal battle taken forward by the Tamil Nadu government, he noted.

Terming the verdict as “historic”, Tamil Nadu law minister S Ragupathysaid that the Supreme Court has given a very good verdict, a historic verdict.


Jallikattu, also known as “Eruthazhuvuthal”, is a bull-taming sport from Tamil Nadu. It is popular in Madurai, Tiruchirappalli, Theni, Pudukkottai and Dindigul districts. These areas are called as Jallikattu belt. Jallikattu is celebrated in the second week of January, during the Tamil harvest festival, Pongal.

However, the practice of jallikattu has long been contested, with animal rights groups and the courts expressing concern over cruelty to animals. They also raised concern over the bloody and dangerous nature of the sport that sometimes causes death and injuries to both the bulls and human participants.



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