No to animal sacrifice in temples: Himachal HC

Prachi Kumari, Student, Law School, BHU, Varanasi

Honourable High Court of Himachal Pradesh on September 2, 2014 banned the sacrifice of animals in temples in the state in a landmark judgment. This way, the court brought to an end the age-old practice of sacrificing animals during religious ceremonies and festivals in the hill state saying that animals cannot be permitted to be killed in a barbaric manner to appease the gods.

The high court disposed of all three petitions and based its order on the petition filed by Sonali Purewal in 2012. The bench in the order said startling revelations had been made on the manner in which thousands of animals were sacrificed every year in the name of religious worship.

A division bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sureshwar Thakur held that, “No person throughout the state shall sacrifice any animal in any place of public religious worship, including all land and buildings near such places of religious worship which are ordinarily connected to religious purposes.” The bench also said, “It’s a grey area whether animal sacrifice can be termed a religious practice or not. The faith, ritualistic worship and its continuation must change in the modern era. People are required to be sensitised on this issue by the state government,”

Court issued a directive to the Government that, there would be no sacrifice of any animal in any ceremony or ‘yagya’ or congregation or procession connected to any religious worship in a public street forthwith.

Animal sacrifice has been prevalent in many areas of Himachal Pradesh with the government stating that goat and sheep are slaughtered during festive seasons in Shillai area of Sirmaur district.

Animal sacrifices also take place in Mandi district, where goats are sacrificed are occasion of Ashtami. Also, in some temples in Rampur, Rohru, Kotkhai, Jhakri and Chirgaon areas (in Shimla district), sheep and goats are offered to gods.

In fact, animal sacrifice is a common practice not only in Himachal Pradesh, but in every part of the country. Although Compassion is the basic tenet in all religions, cruelty towards animals has become basic principle. We can easily find out animals whose part of body, generally ears have been cut down. In most of the cases, their lives are taken in order to please our respective Gods.

At this scenario, this judgment is worth welcome, but something more should be added. It appears that the judgment is based on emotional motive. Since animals are killed for commercial purposes as well, the court should have added some concrete directions in order to prevent animal slaughter for commercial purposes. Moreover, we also have to consider geographical condition of some areas where people have no choice except using animals for eating purposes.

Considering all the above mentioned factors, we need to enforce such judgment throughout the country, which can prevent animals from slaughter. Preservation of animal- variety is very essential for preservation of bio-diversity and safe environment. Therefore, we should be conscious so that no animal be killed brutally.