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SC allows traditional cockfights during Sankranti

The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition filed by BJP leader Raghurama Raju against the order of the High Court of Judicature at Hyderabad banning inhuman cockfights that take place in Telugu states during Sankranti festival and seizure of roosters.

The apex court, while allowing cockfights in a traditional way without tying knives to the legs of roosters and betting, directed the police not to venture into the arenas or arrest farmers.

In 2016, the Hyderabad High Court had directed the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments to ensure that no cockfights took place during the ensuing Sankranti festival. The high court passed the orders while dealing with petitions filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India, Humane Society International-India, and People for Animals and other organisations. At that time, Raju filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court contesting the high court decision. “Cockfight is a tradition in coastal districts, which has been followed from centuries. We are against using blades and also betting.

We just want pure original cockfight,” he had said.

Inhuman methods

The petitioners brought to the notice of the court that revellers use inhuman methods such as tying sharp blades to the legs of the cocks in an effort to win huge cash prizes through betting in violation of the ban. In 2015, despite the high court ban, Andhra districts of East and West Godavari, Guntur and Krishna witnessed heavy betting to the tune of Rs 100 crore on Sankranti days alone.

Despite the ban and Lokayukta’s directive, politicians, their relatives, businessmen and landlords and special invitees from faraway Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Bhubaneswar, Raipur and Kolkata participated and betted huge amounts of money on cockfights.

Reacting to the apex court order, the Humane Society International (HSI), India in a statement said, “Irrespective of whether the birds are fitted with knives or whether ancillary activities of betting, gambling take place, the practice of animal fights is prohibited by law. The courts have time and again upheld this prohibition on cockfights.”

The HSI urged people to report cockfighting incidents at the nearest police station or on phone number 8899117773.

-Deccan Herald

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