Agartala, Sept 28 : The Tripura High Court's order putting a blanket ban on animal/bird sacrifice within the precincts of any of the temples of the state has evoked mixed reaction, while animal lovers and rationalist groups welcomed the decision, another quarter including the ruling BJP is apparently not happy with the decision.
State government sources, however, indicated that they might be moving the Supreme Court challenging the decision as it had hurt the sentiment of the Hindu believers and to prevent century old tradition of animal sacrifice in the temples like Tripureswari Devi Temple at Udaipur where human sacrifice was the tradition. But for the past 500 years till date animal sacrifice continued.
“We have not analysed the judgment yet and the state government would discuss the matter at appropriate level before accepting or challenging the high court order. This government is always respectful and loyal to court and other democratic pillars but the action of the government has to be acceptable to all,” said state law minister Ratan Lal Nath.
However, BJP leaders of the state vehemently opposed the decision of stopping animal sacrifice in the temples and argued that it is an infringement on the fundamental right of religious freedom enshrined in Article 25 of the constitution and urged the high court to review the judgment considering its impact on the society.
Meanwhile, opposition CPI (M) has welcomed the decision and hoped that the state government would comply with the judgment to set the example of practicing secular character of India’s constitution. The Congress has not reacted on the decision. The division bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Arindam Lodh opined that the state by an enactment can only regulate or restrict any economic, financial, political or secular activity which may be associated with a religious practice. The role of the government in regular activities of the temple is limited to such religious activities, which are secular in nature.
“Act of the State of offering one goat every day for a sacrifice in the Mata Tripureswari temple and other temples on certain occasions, lacks the essence of economic, commercial, political or secular character and hence, the action of the State in offering such an animal for sacrifice is neither permissible under the Indian Constitution nor any statute. The right of offering an animal for sacrifice is not an integral and essential part of the religion, protected under Article 25(1) of the Constitution,” the court observed.
The age long practice of sacrifice of animal, either by the state or by an individual, cannot be said to be an essential part of the religion and as such, is not protected under Article 25(1) for it being against the principle/doctrine of morality and health, as also provisions of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960, the judgment read.
Right to freedom of religion is subject to the rigours of public order, morality, health and the other provisions of Part-III. Sacrifice of an animal in a temple, not being an essential part of religion, is also violation of Article 21 of the Constitution, the order said adding that devotees desirous of offering any animal out of personal faith, belief or desire, may do so, but, shall take back the animal and under no circumstance any activity of animal sacrifice shall be permitted to be carried out but the government can earmark land for opening shelter home for rearing such livestock, it further added. (UNI)