Theweekendleader

Supreme Court orders status quo on cock fights in Andhra

New Delhi/Hyderabad

12-January-2015

The Supreme Court Monday directed status quo to be maintained on the traditional cock fight games during the Sankranti festival in Andhra Pradesh.

Asking the Andhra Pradesh High Court to review the case and hear all sides, including the Animal Welfare Board (AWB), a division bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice A.K. Sikri ruled that the status quo be maintained till the high court finally disposes of the matter.

The apex court order was interpreted by both the litigant who challenged the high court order and the AWB as victory of their arguments.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Raghurama Krishnam Raju and two others, who had challenged the high court order banning the cock fights, claimed that the Supreme Court has given green signal to the traditional game as it refused to stay the lower court's order.

However, a counsel of AWB said the status quo means no cock fight can happen and action can be initiated against anybody indulging in the "disgraceful" practice.

The counsel said the Supreme Court asked the high court to review the case in the light of the apex court's historic judgment of April last year banning bull fighting, bullock-cart races and others sports cruel to animals.

Police in coastal Andhra Pradesh said they will continue to enforce the existing rules, under which cock fights are illegal.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court Dec 29, 2014, directed police to take action against organising cock fights with betting, sale of liquor, gambling and subjecting animals and birds to cruelty during the festival.

The BJP leader and others challenged the high court order on the ground that cock fights are part of tradition and culture. They argued that without this, the festival will lose its significance.

The petitioners claimed that the ban will also affect the revenues which the state gets from visitors including NRIs during the festival. According to them during 2012-13, nearly 3,452 NRIs came to these district and spent nearly Rs.600 crore to see the cock fights and during 2013-14 nearly 3,561 NRIs came and spent nearly Rs.634 crore.

Cock fights between specially bred cocks are organised during Sankranti in Krishna, West Godavari and East Godavari districts. Crores of rupees are bet every year, and defying police ban, the cock fights are organised in the region for a week.

Powerful politicians of all hues, celebrities and businessmen, participate in the betting. The fights between the specially bred and trained cocks are organised in fields as thousands watch them. Three to four inch knives are attached to the cocks' legs and the fight continues till the death of one of the two cocks in each round.

Though police deny the permission for conduct of the fights, the organisers always have the last laugh thanks to the support from powerful politicians. Every year, police seize specially bred cocks and money in different places but it continues to thrive due to political patronage.

The legislators say since the cockfights are part of the culture, they have to respect the people's sentiments.
- IANS