Court in India bans animal sacrifice for religious purposes

(Photo: REUTERS / Babu)Traders herd goats to a livestock market for sale, after unloading them on a roadside on the eve of Eid al-Adha, in the southern Indian city of Chennai October 26, 2012. Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha by slaughtering sheep, goats and cows to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail on God's command.

A court in northern India has banned the age-old tradition of sacrificing animals for religious purposes, saying the practice is "barbaric" and a "social evil" that must be curbed.

In a landmark judgment, the Himachal Pradesh High Court ordered on September 1 that no animal shall be sacrificed in all the temples and buildings connected to religious worship throughout the hilly state.

The two-judge bench also directed authorities to ensure that the prohibition on the slaughter, mainly of goats and sheep, was strictly implemented, Ucan India reported.

"A startling revelation has been made in the manner in which thousands of animals are sacrificed every year in the name of religious worship," Justices Rajiv Sharma and Sureshwar Thakur were quoted as saying.

The two judges stressed that the practice of offering animals to appease gods and deities causes "immense pain and suffering" to the innocent animals, reminding devotees that compassion is "the basic tenet in all religions."

"The innocent animals cannot be permitted to be sacrificed to appease the god/deity in a barbaric manner...The practice of animal sacrifice is a social evil and is required to be curbed," the court was further quoted as saying.

The decision stemmed from petitions filed by various individuals in 2010, 2011, 2012, according to the Times of India.

In dispensing the decision, the high court disposed of all three petitions and based its order on the petition lodged by Sonali Purewal two years ago, it further reported.

The petitioners had disclosed that the practice was common in many Hindu temples in the state, including those in Sirmaur, Kullu, Mandi and the capital Shimla, said Telegraph India.

The report also said that the petitions pointed out that animal sacrifice - mostly of sheep and goats, increases sharply in the festival season, which starts in late September.

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