SC rejects plea to ban animal sacrifices in festivals

We have to close our eyes to centuries-old traditions, says Chief Justice

Refusing to entertain a petition to ban animal sacrifices during religious festivals across all communities, the Supreme Court said on Monday that it could not, for the sake of societal balance and harmony, intervene in centuries-old customs of religious faith and tradition meant to appease the gods.

A public interest litigation petition filed by journalist Varaaki contended that “religion cannot be allowed to become a tool for perpetuating untold miseries on animals.”

It contended that “faith, religion, customs and practices should not take precedence over lawful rights, human or animal.” This being true for all religious communities, whether it be “Durga pooja, the slaughter of lambs for Easter, turkeys for Thanksgiving or goats for Bakrid,” the petition said.

“The balance and harmony of all faiths, this court is bound to it. This, your petition, makes generalised statements on a very, very sensitive matter. We have to close our eyes to centuries and centuries-old traditions,” Chief Justice of India H.L. Dattu responded to the submissions made in the petition by senior advocate Raju Ramachandran and advocate Sriram Parakkat.

The Chief Justice then pointed to Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and observed that it was not an offence to kill an animal in a manner required by the religion of any community.

“Nothing in this Section prevents a person from killing animals as part of his tradition,” the Bench, also comprising Justice Amitava Roy, observed.

‘Frenzied paranoia’

Mr. Ramachandran, making his point that this petition was not regarding any particular community, narrated scenes of animal sacrifices where animals were slaughtered amidst “frenzied paranoia.”

“These sacrifices often take place in full public view of children, and other animals, and therefore, the same is a celebration of barbaric and ancient practices that have their foundation in superstition.”

Killing of an animal should be as per civilised norms, by trained butchers, with no unnecessary pain caused to the animal,” Mr. Ramachandran submitted.

Finally, an unmoved Supreme Court allowed him to withdraw the petition with liberty to implead in a pending appeal against a Himachal Pradesh High Court order of September 2014 banning animal sacrifices in temples.

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Printable version | Jul 10, 2020 12:20:26 PM |

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