The Andhra High Court on Friday directed the State Government to take steps to prevent cockfights and gambling during the forthcoming Sankranti festival. Hearing a PIL filed by one Sk Saleem from Pedapudi in East Godavari urging the court to direct officials to prevent cockfights, a division bench comprising Justice Joy Malya Bagchi and Justice A Venkata Sesha Sai emphasised that the court directions issued on in 2016 with regard to cockfights should be implemented.
Stating that it will take up the PIL along with a contempt petition filed stating that officials failed to implement the court orders with regard to cockfights issued earlier, the bench adjourned the hearing till after eight weeks. The Supreme Court had in 2018 ordered for prevention of cockfights during Sankranti and dismissed a petition filed by Raghu Rama Krishna Raju, challenging the High Court order. Cockfights on massive scale are organised in various parts of coastal Andhra where crores of rupees are wagered on the ‘sport’ during Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh.
Politicians, businessmen and celebrities also participate in the traditional cockfights organised during the week-long Sankranti holidays. 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. The petitioner urged the High Court to ensure effective implementation of the prohibition of cockfights, in accordance with the AP High Court order in 2016, which explicitly issued directives to the Government of AP to ensure cockfights are prevented.
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