Tamil Nadu's famed bull-taming sport Jallikattu has been fiercely opposed by animals rights activists.
There is likely to be no Jallikattu this Pongal in Tamil Nadu, with the Supreme Court today saying that it will not be able to give verdict on allowing the bull taming sport by Saturday, when the harvest festival will be held.
The court said it cannot hear a petition challenging its ban on Jallikattu as it is in the process of delivering judgement on the validity of a notification by the Centre allowing the sport. It said a draft judgement is ready but it is unfair to ask the judges to pass their order in the next two days.
Jallikattu, organised to celebrate Pongal, has not been held in Tamil Nadu for the last two years because of the ban imposed by the Supreme Court. Animal rights groups oppose the sport saying it subjects the bulls to torture and grievous injury.
Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam has vowed to ensure Jallikattu is held this year, and he and his party the AIADMK have in separate petitions requested the Centre to issue an ordinance or executive order to allow the sport, saying it is a symbol of Tamil pride.
"Myself and the Tamil Nadu government, who follow in the footsteps of Amma (the late J Jayalalithaa), will ensure that Jallikattu is held. We will not back off even a bit. I would like to assure the people of Tamil Nadu that we will uphold the heritage and culture of the Tamils," Mr Panneerselvam said on Wednesday.
The Centre has indicated that it is not eager to take the ordinance route to reintroduce Jallikattu, which is hugely popular in rural areas. Protests have been held across the state, demanding that Jallikattu be held this year.
Union Environment Minister Anil Dave, who met an AIADMK delegation, said the government is waiting for the Supreme Court's decision. "We should request the Supreme Court to give its judgment, then the government can take any step. The government is ready even at midnight to do all these things," Mr Dave told reporters on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court had banned Jallikattu in 2014. The Congress-led UPA government in 2011 had included bulls in the list of animals banned for use as performing animals. The NDA government delisted bulls but the top court stayed the order and will now give its final verdict on the matter.