Hyderabad: The High Court at Hyderabad on Monday upheld the ban on cockfighting and directed the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments to ensure no cockfights take place during the Sankranti festival.
The court extended the ban on cockfights wholly and not just during the Sankranti festival in January.
The common high court for both the Telugu states passed the orders on petitions filed by the Animal Welfare Board of India, Humane Society International/India, People for Animals and other organisations.
The petitioners brought to the notice of the court that cockfighting was being conducted every year on Sankranti on January 14 in violation of the ban on the practice and despite court orders passed in the past.
Cockfights, featuring two roosters often fitted with razor-sharp blades on their legs and made to fight each other to the death while people place bets, are organised on massive scale every year during Sankranti and crores of rupees are bet especially in coastal region of Andhra Pradesh.
N.G. Jayasimha, member of the Animal Welfare Board of India and the Managing Director of Humane Society International/India, has welcomed the court order.
"We are delighted that the Hyderabad High Court has upheld the ban on cockfighting. Cockfighting is not only cruel to animals but also encourages gambling and child labour," he said in a statement.
"A practice that glorifies so many illegal activities should have no place in a civilised society," he added.
Gauri Maulekhi, the government affairs liaison officer for HSI/India, the impleaded petitioner in the case, hoped that the state governments would strictly implement the court orders and bring to book those organising the cockfights.
Under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, inciting and organizing animal fights is an offence.
In 2014 in the High Court had ordered a ban on cockfights. The same was challenged by a politician from Andhra Pradesh in the Supreme Court, which last year ordered a status quo and asked the High Court to re-open the case and hear all sides.
Following the Supreme Court order, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Raghurama Krishnam Raju and two others had claimed that the apex court gave green signal to the traditional game.
The BJP leader and others argue that cock fights are part of tradition and culture, and without them, the festival will lose its significance.
Powerful politicians of all hues, celebrities and businessmen, participate in the betting. Thousands watch the cock fights organised in open grounds.