The apex court also asked the Andhra Pradesh High Court to re-open the case and hear all sides, including the Animal Welfare Board.

A division bench of Chief Justice H.L. Dattu and Justice A.K. Sikri ruled that the status quo be maintained till the high court finally disposes of the matter. The apex court order was interpreted by both the litigant who challenged the high court order and the state police as victory of their arguments.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Raghurama Krishnam Raju and two others, who had challenged the high court order banning the cock fights, claimed that the Supreme Court has given green signal to the traditional game.

However, police in coastal Andhra Pradesh said they will continue to enforce the existing rules, under which cock fight is illegal.

The Andhra Pradesh High Court Dec 29, 2014, directed police to take action against organising cock fights with betting, sale of liquor, gambling and subjecting animals and birds to cruelty during the festival. The BJP leader and others challenged the high court order on the ground that cock fights are part of tradition and culture. They argued that without this, the festival will lose its significance.

Cock fights are organised during Sankranti in Krishna, West Godavari and East Godavari districts. Crores of rupees are bet every year, and defying police ban, the cock fights are organised in the region for a week.

Powerful politicians of all hues, celebrities and businessmen, participate in the betting. Thousands watch the cock fights organised in open grounds. The state police have said the animal welfare rules do not permit such fights, and they would enforce the rules.

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