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SC refuses to lift HC ban on religious animal sacrifice

The Supreme Court Wednesday refused to vacate or suspend an order banning animal sacrifice during Kulu Dushara and in other religious rituals of the Kulu region of Himachal Pradesh.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu, Justice SA Bobde and Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre declined to order an interim suspension of the Himachal Pradesh High Court order which has banned the animal sacrifice during Kulu Dushara and other religious rituals in the Kulu region.

However, on a petition of Maheshwar Singh and others, the apex court issued notice to the Himachal Pradesh government, asking it why the animal sacrifice should not be allowed on the concluding day of the Kulu Dushara and in other religious rituals.

The court said that it was issuing notice as animal sacrifice was a recurring practice every year and affected the religious sentiments of a section of people.

The court said this as senior counsel Kiran Suri, appearing for petitioner Maheshwar Singh and others, pressed for suspension of the Sep 1 ban order of the state high court.

“Let this year’s Dushara pass off like that (in pursuance of the high court order). We will see next year,” the court said declining pleas for suspending the high court order of Sep 1, 2014, which completely prohibited the animal sacrifice in temples and other places.

This, the petitioner said, was in complete violation of Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, which carves out exceptions to safeguard the religious rights of various classes of people to sacrifice animals for religious purposes.

The petitioner said that exception was in furtherance to the guarantee of religious freedom and practices under Article 25 and Article 26 of the Constitution.

Kullu Dushara is a seven-day congregation held at Dhalpur Maidan in Kulu.

The practice of animal sacrifices on the last day of Dushara has been going on for last 365 years, the petition said.

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