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June 23, 2018

Arguments against restarting bullfights in the state of Goa, western India

Saikat Kumar Basu
Lethbridge, AB Canada

I am writing to share my suggestions regarding restarting bullfights in Goa, a former Portuguese colony and a small state on the western coast of India extremely popular with tourists on behalf on the People for Animals. This move in favor of animal fights would not only be in contravention of various Indian Central and State laws but would also encourage cruelty and violence. It will increase gambling and betting, which are an integral component of animal fights and this will be a menace to society.
Legality of bullfights Bullfighting, and any other form of animal fighting, are expressly prohibited by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, India, 1960. The relevant provision of law is reproduced hereunder-
Section 11(1) (m) solely with a view to providing entertainment
(ii) Incites any animal to fight or bait any other animal; or
(n) organizes, keeps uses or acts in the management or, any place for animal fighting or for the purpose of baiting any animal or permits or offers any place to be so used or receives money for the admission of any other person to any place kept or used for any such purposes;
Section 31 of the Act makes it a cognizable offence to organize or manage a place for the purpose of organizing an animal fight.
Section 3 of the Act provides that 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.
Furthermore, these provisions have been upheld by various courts in the following matters:
People for Animals vs. State of Goa (1997 (4) BCR 271).
The Honorable High Court of Bombay upheld the validity of the aforementioned sections and reiterated the prohibition on animal fighting.
Animal Welfare Board of India vs. A. Nagaraja & Ors (2014 (7) SCC 547)
The Honorable Supreme Court of India, in its landmark judgment, declared animal fighting to be illegal and placed emphasis on the legal responsibility of the owner towards his animals and his duty to ensure that they do not suffer unnecessary pain or suffering, as under section 3 of the Act. The Honorable Court also declared that animal fighting shall not be carried on under the guise of tradition & culture.
Here, I would like to mention the provisions of the state of Tamil Nadu Regulation of Jallikattu Act 2009, which is a State Act, is repugnant to the Indian PCA Act, which is a Central Act, since, both the Acts fall under Entry No. 17 in the Concurrent List.  Repugnancy between the Parliamentary Legislation and State Legislation arises in two ways:
Where the legislations, though enacted with respect to the matters in their allotted sphere, overlap conflict; and
Where two legislations are with respect to the same matters in the concurrent list and there is a conflict.
In both situations, the Parliamentary legislation will predominate in the first by virtue of the non-obstante clause in Article 246(1), and in the second by reason of Article 254(1) of the Indian Constitution. Ultimately, the Supreme Court of India held that since Jallikattu is inconsistent and in direct collision with Section 3, Section 11(1) (a), 11(1) (m) (ii) and Section 22 of the Indian PCA Act read with Articles 51A (g) & (h) of the Constitution and hence repugnant to the PCA Act, which is a welfare legislation and hence declared unconstitutional and void, being violative of Article 254(1) of the Constitution of India.
The Indian state of Goa in attempting to legalize bullfights, which are prohibited by an Indian Central Act, is setting itself up for failure and such attempts will only be declared unconstitutional. The matter of animal welfare and specifically animal fights is already subject to existing law in India – any extra regulatory or selective legalizing regime will only be detrimental to animals and will also be against the public interest, making it counterproductive.
The Article 21 of the Constitution of India which protects the fundamental right to life protects all forms of life, including animal life. To deny the right to animals is a violation of our fundamental duty, as prescribed under Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution, which imposes the fundamental duty on all citizens to have compassion for all creatures and to protect the environment, forests and lakes. The Apex Indian court has read Article 21 with Article 51 A (g) and interpreted it to mean that animals have the right to lead a life with intrinsic worth, dignity and security, to live free from unnecessary pain or suffering.
Public safety & cruelty to animals: Bullfights are usually held in cleared rice fields in and around villages, there are no fences or barricades here and the crowd provides the enclosure. One particular bullfight was even hosted in the compound of a school, in the presence of 2000 odd people, including minors, and no barricade to halt half a ton of charging bull. Instances of injuries, and even a death, have failed to deter these events. Prohibition should be continued on bullfighting in view of the threat it poses to human life and in the interest of public safety, as the event of bullfighting which involves a fight between two provoked, agitated and unreasonable animals.
Cruelty that these bulls are subjected to is immense and prolonged. The essence of bringing up a fighting bull is a carefully monitored diet, supplemented by vitamins and minerals that are administered without prescription or consultation. Many are confined for long periods of time to build their temper, this in itself is a violation of the Act (see Section 3 & section 11(1) (a, (e)), their horns filed and sharpened down to a lance point to inflict mortal wounds on their opponents. At the time of the fight, the owners start haranguing the bulls, building up the bulls’ tempers and doing this, incredibly, with a hand clamped around the bulls’ gonads. Bulls that concede and try to turn away are chased, it’s winning opponent goaded into chasing the loser. The bulls are forced to fight until only one remains standing or until deep wounds, bleeding profusely, are seen on both or either animal. Bull having low chances of recovery and sold off for slaughter without treatment or relief from the injuries they suffer during the fight. The animal is neither examined by a vet, nor certified to be fit for consumption.
Culture & Tradition: It is claimed that bullfighting is part of the culture of the state of Goa. The practice of bullfighting only began at the end of the century. It has now become cause of cruelty, bloodshed, violence and heavy betting/gambling. Large sums are involved: a minimum of 20,000 rupees every fight, by way of entry fees, and undisclosed amounts in betting. This is a scale of betting that has naturally led to allegations of fixed fights and even the occasional nobbling of a prize bull. The heavy betting is why the fights were advertised on the sports pages of the local daily papers. Post the ban upheld by the Panaji Bench of the Bombay High Court in India in 1998, the advertising has come to a stop and word of fights is spread through closed Facebook and Whatsapp groups, where entry is by member reference only. This makes it clear that the organizers are well aware of the illegality.
The real tradition of Goa, carnivals, festivals celebrating food, music and unity, is lost in the commercial gains of a few and in exploitation of mute animals. I suggest that you revive the lost tradition which has made Goa the tourist’s paradise, and uphold the statutory ban on the cruel practice of bullfights.
Revenue & Tourism: There is still no concrete evidence suggesting that the ban on bullfights is causing decline in the revenues of the bull owners. It is unclear from statements made by persons participating in and organizing these bull fights as to how the bullfights are a source of revenue, as gambling is denied.
The bullfights do not generate tourism, as the only persons organizing, participating and providing audience to these barbaric form of entertainment are the local farmers and villagers. On the other hand, people from every corner of the world are increasingly compassionate and are actively denouncing any activity involving animal cruelty and abuse. It will therefore, not come as a surprise if legalizing bullfights will greatly affect tourism in Goa, its largest source of revenue.
Recently, members of the European Parliament have voted in favor of ending EU subsidies to farmers who specifically breed bulls for bullfights. Thousands of individuals from world over have urged UNESCO to derecognize Spain as a country having cultural heritage due to its encouragement of the cruel practice of bullfights. Considering all the facts stated above, we urge you to abide by the existing law in force and actively discourage bullfights, and any other form of animal fights. We request that no consideration be given to legalizing this cruel practice of bullfights and the cruelty, violence, other illegal activities it entails.


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