At least 5,000 baby goats are reported to have been slaughtered at a temple festival at Poosariyur near Anthiyur on Friday, the 27th of April, 2012. Their blood is reported to have been consumed by the priests, and a number of devotees & “.. meat was distributed free of cost to all…” Apparently, all of this was done, and is done, to invoke the blessings of the deity, and to usher in prosperity. Eating the meat, it is believed “..will provide protection from chronic diseases…”
This is obviously a regression, because what the news report also says is that “A few years ago, animal sacrifices were banned in temples. However, following protests from devotees, the ban was lifted.”
Needless to state, the young, terrified animals, must have been sacrificed in full public view, with men, women, and children watching them and “glorying in the tradition” ; and within sight of each other too, each waiting torturously for his / her turn for death, with the smell of blood all around, and with the superior human race baying for their blood.
Which brings us to these QUESTIONS: Is the sacrifice lawful? Is it permitted? What is the view of the Courts of law of the Union of India
In this context we shall summarize the very interesting conclusions arrived at by the Chief Justice’s bench of the High Court of Uttarakhand, in the matters titled “Gauri Maulekhi Vs State of Uttarakhand & Ors”, and “PFA, Dehradun Vs State of Uttarakhand & Ors”, being W.P. (PIL) No. 77/2010, and W.P. (PIL) No. 73/2010, decided together, vide a common judgment, on 19th December, 2011. [This judgement can also be seen here]
The High Court, after specifically appealing to the people of the State of Uttarakhand at Para 5 of the judgment, that there is no need to appease the Gods by making animal sacrifices, has held as follows :
- That even if there is an ‘old tradition of sacrificing animals to appease deities’, no sacrifice is permissible outside a slaughter house, in cities, towns, or urban or semi-urban areas under the jurisdiction of municipalities and other local authorities.
- The High Court directed the State and its agencies to ensure that no destruction / killing / sacrifice of any nature of any animal takes place outside a registered or licensed slaughter house, in cities, towns, or urban or semi-urban areas under the jurisdiction of municipalities and other local authorities.
- The High Court also directed the State and its agencies to ensure “that the purpose of such destruction / killing / sacrifice is to arrange food for mankind and for no other purpose”. Further, that “it is obligatory on the part of the State to ensure that such destruction / killing / sacrifice is for the purpose of arranging food for mankind and for no other purpose. We, accordingly, direct the State and its agencies to adhere to their obligations, as indicated above, and to implement the same vigorously, with an appeal to the people of the State as above.” (Refer to para 11 of the judgment.)
- The High Court also held that in the event of non-availability of an adequate number of slaughter houses, “it would be necessary for the protection of human health, hygiene and sentiment to arrange such destruction / killing outside the public view and to ensure removal of the corpse and blood in such manner that the same do not cause any harm to the public health, hygiene and sentiment”. (Refer to para 12 of the judgment.)
The High Court was persuaded to take the view that it did after a consideration of Section 11(3)(e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which provides that the destruction, or the preparation for destruction of any animal, as food for mankind, shall not be ‘Cruelty’ unless it is accompanied by the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering ; and Rule 6(5) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Slaughter House Rules, 2001, which specifically mentions and provides for “ritual” slaughter.
Section 11(3)(e) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, reads as under : –
“(3) Nothing in this section shall apply to—tc “(3) Nothing in this section shall apply to—”
the commission or omission of any act in the course of the destruction or the preparation for destruction of any animal as food for mankind unless such destruction or preparation was accompanied by the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.tc ” (e) the commission or omission of any act in the course of the destruction or the preparation for destruction of any animal as food for mankind unless such destruction or preparation was accompanied by the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.”
Rule 6(5) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Slaughter House Rules, 2001, reads as under :-
Knocking section in slaughter house may be so planned as to suit the animal and particularly the ritual slaughter, if any and such knocking section and dry landing area associated with it shall be so built that escape from this section can be easily carried out by an operator without allowing the animal to pass the escape barrier.”
Going by the parameters set out in the judgment of the High Court of Uttarakhand at Nainital, what occurred at the temple at Tamil Nadu – the ritual slaughter of 5000 baby goats to propitiate a deity – was CLEARLY UNLAWFUL. The slaughter did not take place at a slaughter house. It was in full public view, (and animals were slaughtered while other terrified animals watched). The slaughter was an act of propitiation, and for fertility, and though meat was distributed, the avowed purpose was not slaughter, to arrange food for mankind.
If the law enforcement authorities – the police, the Collector, and other officials of district administration allowed the same to happen, which they obviously did, then they have not upheld the law, which they are bound to do.