Court ban on Kambala race stays in Karnataka

The Karnataka High Court on Monday declined to vacate its November 18 interim stay on Kambala – buffaloes race in the state’s coastal areas — till the Supreme Court’s verdict on Jallikattu bull-taming sport in the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.

“The ban on resuming Kambala will remain for another two weeks till the Supreme Court delivers verdict on Jallikattu law,” said a division bench headed by Chief Justice S.K. Mukherjee in the order, posting the case’s next hearing for February 13.

The centuries-old buffalo races are held in the wetlands of coastal districts of Dakshina Kannada and Uduipi, about 400km from Bengaluru, from November-March every year to celebrate a good harvest and as a recreational sport for farmers and rural folk.

Animal rights activists on January 25 challenged the amendment Bill to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act, 1960, passed by the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly on January 23 to nullify the apex court’s May 7, 2014 ban on Jallikattu.

The apex court also banned Kambala in coastal Karnataka along with Jallikattu on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, Compassion Unlimited Plus Action and the Animal Welfare Board of India.

PETA also sought a ban on Kambala, as the buffaloes are whipped to race faster in slush paddy fields for their owners to win cash prizes from Rs 10,000 to Rs 5 lakh.

A division bench of the top court is scheduled to hear the case against Jallikattu on Tuesday after the central government filed a plea last week seeking permission to withdraw its January 6 notification, paving way for reviving Jallikattu in Tamil Nadu.

Demand for reviving Kambala in Karnataka came soon after the Tamil Nadu passed the law replacing the ordinance to bypass the apex court’s ban on Jallikattu, held during the Pongal festival in mid-January every year.

Though the state cabinet on January 28 cleared the draft bill to amend the PCA Act for reviving Kambala, by introducing it in the legislature session from February 6, the Mangaluru-based Kambala Committee sought an ordinance to overcome the high court’s interim stay.

“As the high court has not lifted stay on Kambala, we will resume stir for reviving the race till the state government issues an ordinance because the season for the sporting event ends by March,” Committee President Ashok Pai told reporters here.

The Committee filed an interim application in the high court for vacating its stay on resuming Kambala after Tamil Nadu’s law to allow Jallikattu.