The Tripura High Court Bans Animal and bird Sacrifice in Temples to stop animal cruelty in the name of religion.
Recently, a Public Interest Litigation was filed at the Tripura High Court, by former District Judge Subhash Bhattacharjee, challenging the practice of animal and bird slaughter for sacrifices in the temples in Tripura.
This religious tradition is rooted in a century-old practice which was brought into existence by a merger agreement signed between the Governor-General of India and Regeant Maharani Kanchan Prabha Devi, on the 15th of October, 1949.
By virtue of the merger agreement, the Government of Tripura is mandatorily bound to continuously sponsor several traditional tribal Pujas, and 14 temples, including the Mata Tripura Sundari Temple, run by Hindu princely Rulers. This sponsorship also required the Government to sponsor the sacrifice of animals at this temple, from the government’s funds.
For almost seven decades, the merger agreement has been in force in Tripura. A government department called the Public Place of Worship (PPW), also known as ‘Debarchan Vibhaga’ was established to enforce this merger.
The Department functions in 4, out of the eight Districts in Tripura, under the supervision of District Magistrates. This department bears the responsibility of carrying out the provisions of the merger, and the entire expenditure of these temples in Tripura.
In the landmark judgment delivered by Chief Justice Sanjay Karol, and Justice Arindam Lodh, the Division Bench of the Tripura High Court has banned the religious practice of animal sacrifice in all religious places in Tripura.
In the words of the Court, “No person including the State shall be allowed to sacrifice any animal or bird within the precincts of any of the temples within the State of Tripura”.
The Court issued directions mandating the Chief Secretary, all District Magistrates, and the Superintendent of Police to enforce the ban. The Court also directed that measures, like installing CCTV cameras in the temples by the Chief Secretary, and keeping a monthly tab on the footages, should be implemented.
The Court voiced out the need for the Government to sensitize the general public on this issue. According to the Court, the concerned officials, i.e. the Chief Secretary and District Magistrates shall be personally liable for implementing the Court’s order.
Animal Rights activists within Tripura have greatly applauded the Court’s ruling, as they believe that it is a step towards ending centuries-old animal cruelty carried out in the name of religion.
However, the Tripura’s Royal Family leaders do not seem to welcome the Court’s decision. They have argued that the Court’s ruling cannot override the merger agreement.
The State Government, through Advocate General Arun Kanti Bhowmik, has indicated that it will file a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the High Court’s judgment.