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India Supreme Court bans bull fighting festival

[JURIST] The Indian Supreme Court [official website] on Tuesday banned a version of bull fighting in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Jallikattu is an annual festival in which thousands of men chase the bulls to grab prizes tied to their horns. The court found that the use of bulls in the festival "severely harmed" the animals and was an offense under the Prevention of Cruelty to the Animals Act. Animal rights activists have described it as a landmark verdict. Festival organizers, however, say that bullfighting is a sacrosanct Indian tradition that is an integral part of Tamil culture. The Supreme Court had previously banned the practice in 2008 but reversed its order four days later, saying Jallikattu could be allowed if certain guidelines were followed.

Animal rights remain a contentious issue around the world. Last month the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held that a ban on an advertisement by an animal rights group did not violate [JURIST report] freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. In November the ECHR upheld [JURIST report] a German injunction preventing the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) [advocacy website] from using Holocaust images in an animal rights poster campaign. The campaign featured pictures of Holocaust victims alongside images of animals kept in mass stocks. PETA argued that the use of the images was governed by article 10. Under article 10 debates concerning public interest, such as animal rights, are afforded particular protection. The ECHR rejected PETA's argument, upholding the decision of a German court to bar use of the images in the campaign. In 2010 the US Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] 8-1 in United States v. Stevens [Cornell LII backgrounder] that a federal law [18 USC ยง#38; 48 text] banning depictions of animal cruelty violates the First Amendment [text] of the US Constitution.

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