In a landmark judgment, the Himachal Pradesh high court Monday banned the sacrifice of animals in temples in the state, saying they cannot be permitted to be killed in a barbaric manner to appease the gods.
“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,” said a division bench of justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sureshwar Thakur.
Issuing the directive to the state, they said 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.
Disposing of petitions, the bench observed: “A startling revelation has been made in the manner in which thousands of animals are sacrificed every year in the name of religious worship.”
“Sacrifice causes immense pain and suffering to the innocent animals. The innocent animals cannot be permitted to be sacrificed to appease the god/deity in a barbaric manner. Compassion is the basic tenet in all religions. The practice of animal sacrifice is a social evil and is required to be curbed.”
The government in its reply said animal sacrifice was performed in some temples of Nirmand and Anni area of Kullu district.
In Mandi district, devotees sacrifice goats on the eve of Ashtami and religious occasions in the temples.
In some temples in Rampur, Rohru, Kotkhai, Jhakri and Chirgaon areas (in Shimla district), sheep and goats are offered to the deity by people of nearby villages.
In Shillai area of Sirmaur district, goats and sheep are slaughtered during the festival season, the government 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,” the court said.
No person shall perform or offer to perform or serve, assist or participate in any sacrifice of animal in any place of religious worship, the court said.