Hyderabad: As Sankranthi season is fast approaching, punters must be eagerly waiting to participate in large-scale betting which is associated with this "sport" in parts of coastal Andhra Pradesh. But the Hyderabad High Court on Thursday took a serious view of the cockfights being conducted in towns and villages across Andhra Pradesh and issued notices to government officials and directed them to check the menace with an iron hand.

The High Court, while hearing a petition by an individual seeking permission to conduct cockfights during Sankranti as it is a traditional game, issued notices to 43 Tehsildars and 49 police station in-charge officers to take all measures to stop the tradition this time around. Expressing its displeasure over the failure of the government mechanism in containing cockfights last year, the court asked the officials to submit their reasons why action should not be taken for the dereliction of their duties.

It may be recalled here that a legal battle against cockfights had been going for several years now and the High Court had time and again issued prohibitory orders against the tradition as it involves cruelty against the birds apart from illegal betting. Despite court orders, people of some districts in AP, with the support of ministers and other leaders conducted cockfights and betting in lakhs and even crores took place openly last year.