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No animal sacrifice in Tripura temple-Orders High Court

No animal sacrifice in Tripura temple-Orders High Court

Tag: GS -2|| Polity ||Constitutional Framework ||Fundamental Rights

Why in news?

  • There would be no sacrifice of animals during Durga Puja in the temples of Tripura for the first time in 525 years.
  • The Tripura High Court had banned the centuries-old tradition of animal sacrifice in religious places.

Background

  • Animal sacrifice has been happening for at least 500 years in Tripura.
  • The major sites are
    • Tripureswari Devi temple in Udaipur
    • Chaturdashi Devta temple in Agartala
    • Durga Bari Temple in Agartala
  • These temples were founded by the Manikyas, Tripura’s ruling dynasty from the late 13th century until September 9, 1949.
  • The Tripura Sundari temple is considered to be one of the holiest shrines of the country.
  • Also known as Tripureswari temple, it is one of the 51 Shaktipeeths in the Hindu religion.
  • The Tripura government has been sponsoring the Puja in the Durga Bari temple for the last 70 years.
  • Till last year, a young buffalo, several goats and pigeons were sacrificed during the five-day festival at Durga Bari.

The High court ban

  • On September 27, a Tripura High Court Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Arindam Lodh banned the sacrifice of animals and birds in temples of the state and directed the government to sensitize people about constitutional values and the importance of love, humanism, and compassion towards all animals and birds.
  • The decision was given on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by one retired judge Subhash Bhattacharjee in 2018.
  • According to the prevailing law, the sacrifice of animals in religious places does not mean cruelty against animals.
  • Hence, the state government has decided to file an SLP before the Supreme Court.

The Royal angle

  • The scion of Tripura’s former royal family, Pradyot Bikram Manikya Deb Barman, also the former President of the Tripura Pradesh Congress, has declared that he would file a petition before the top court soon against the high court judgment, saying the court cannot overrule the provisions of the merger agreement which was signed in
  • The agreement made it mandatory for the Tripura government to continue the sponsorship (including the sacrifice of animals at government expenditure) of several traditional tribal pujas and 14 temples, including the Mata Tripura Sundari Temple and Durga Bari, run by the Hindu princely rulers.

 Observations of the HC in the judgment

  • Which religion or community mandates infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on an animal?
  • Which religion prescribes that physical or mental pain or suffering should not be eliminated in the pre-slaughter stage?
  • Which religion would want its followers not to treat an animal with compassion, care or a humane approach?
  • If the substratum of the ritual of animal sacrifice is taken away, the ceremony of performance of puja cannot be said to have been defiled or the right to practice and profess religion, obstructed, hindered or diminished in any manner.
  • The court ruled that the tradition of sacrificing animals “lacks the essence of economic, commercial, political or secular character” and cannot be protected under Article 25(1) of the Constitution.
  • Freedom of religion is subject to the rigors of public order, morality, and health.
  • Also, animal sacrifice in a temple is violative of Article 21.
  • Religious practice cannot override provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.
  • Article 25
    • Freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion
    • Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion.

Court observation on Animal Sacrifice in Islam 

  • “The issue of animal sacrifice by the minority community (Muslims) on the occasion of Bakr Id, already stands settled in
    • Hanif Qureshi & Others vs The State Of Bihar, 1958,
    • State Of West Bengal vs Ashutosh Lahiri, 1994
    • Mirzapur Moti Kureshi Kassab vs State Of Gujarat And Ors, 1998
  • Hence, such plea needs to be repelled at the threshold’’
  • Even in those cases, the Supreme Court had ruled that animal sacrifice was not an essential part of Islam and could not be granted protection on the ground of religious freedom and that states were free to enact laws to ban the practice.

Conclusion

  • While on one side the High court’s order is being seen as hurting the religious sentiments of the people while on the other side HC’s order is justified since it upholds the essence of humanity.
  • The government should work towards sensitizing people about the constitutional values and the importance of love, humanism, and compassion towards all animals and birds.

Mains Model question

  • Judicial intervention has now become prevalent in religious affairs. Can intervention of the Judiciary in religious affairs be justifiable? Discuss

 References