The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the appeal against an order of the Hyderabad High Court order directing the Andhra Pradesh government not to allow cockfights during Sankranti and seize the roosters.
Raghu Rama Krishna Raju, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader in Andhra Pradesh, had filed the petition challenging the high court order.
The apex court order came even as cockfights were being organised in various parts of coastal Andhra in violation of the High Court order. A MP and a state legislator of ruling Telugu Desam Party (TDP) took part in a cockfight in East Godavari district on Thursday.
Crores of rupees change hands as cockfights are organised on massive scale during Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh. Politicians of all hues, businessmen and celebrities also participate in the cockfights organised during the week-long holidays.
Sankranti, the three-day colourful harvest festival, is beginning on Saturday.
Raju had contended that cockfights are a part of the tradition in Andhra Pradesh, and the High Court order for seizure of roosters was in violation of rights guaranteed under the Constitution.
The petitioner argued that police and other officials need not seize roosters but they could seize knives used in cockfights.
Animal rights activists, however, point out that as per the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 and the Andhra Pradesh Gaming Act, 1974, cockfights are illegal.
"Irrespective of whether the birds are fitted with knives or whether ancillary activities of betting, gambling take place, the practice of animal fights is prohibited by law. The Courts have time and again upheld this prohibition on cockfights," said Humane Society International (HSI), India.
It urged the state government to ensure effective implementation of the prohibition of cockfights, in accordance with the High Court order.
HSI also appealed to people to report any cockfighting taking place near them at the nearest police station or on phone number 8899117773.
"In 2016, the High Court explicitly issued directives to the Government of AP to ensure cockfights are prevented. However, cockfights continue unabated, reportedly under the patronage of elected public representatives, whilst the state law enforcement agencies turn a blind eye to this lawlessness.
"We urge them once again to ensure that the orders of the Hon'ble High Court is followed. Cockfighting is not only cruel to animals but also encourages other social evils like betting, gambling and child labour. A practice that glorifies so many illegal activities should have no place in a civilized society,a said N. G. Jayasimha, managing director of HSI, India.
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