Updated: October 3, 2019 6:52:42 am
Tripura royal scion Pradyot Debbarman on Sunday announced his decision to move the Supreme Court against the Tripura High Court ban on animal sacrifices in temples, terming it a “judicial overreach” and saying “courts cannot play the role of priests”.
Debbarman, who recently quit as Tripura Congress president and has also given up the party’s primary membership, said the tradition of animal sacrifices in temples of the state, which used to take place under the Manikya monarchs who ruled over the erstwhile kingdom of Tripura, “goes beyond the merger agreement” with India. Ever since Tripura acceded to India, the state administration, taking forward the tradition, had been providing animals for sacrifice at two major temples.
Ban sparks debate in N-E state
Animal sacrifice takes place primarily in two temples of Tripura — Tripureswari Temple and Chaturdasha Devta Temple. Both were founded under the Manikya dynasty, to which Pradyot belongs. The tradition of animal sacrifice, which goes back at least 500 years, continued even under the Communist rule. The ban on the tantrik method of worship has sparked a debate in the state. So far, only the CPM has publicly welcomed the HC order.
“Personally, I am against opulent slaughter. I detest it. We should not do large-scale slaughter and restrict ourselves to symbolic one or two slaughters. It is more affordable too for poor tribes and we should not indulge in such a practice in this day and age. But it is an overreach from the High Court when it says you cannot sacrifice at all. Can they do it at the Kamakhya temple? Could we ban Jallikattu, which is not even a temple ritual but a sport? Can they stop Bakrid tomorrow?,” Debbarman told The Indian Express.
Incidentally, the BJP government in Tripura, which is also planning to move the apex court seeking a reconsideration of the High Court order, had also drawn the Eid reference while opposing the petition for the ban.
However, the High Court had termed the argument “preposterous”, saying the plea needs to be “repelled at the threshold” as the issue of animal sacrifice during Eid stands settled in the Mohd Hanif Qureshi vs Bihar, Ashutosh Lahiri vs state of West Bengal and the and Mirzapur Moti Kureshi v state of Gujarat cases.
In those cases, the courts held that animal sacrifice was not an essential component of Islam and cannot be granted protection under the Article 25 of the Constitution.
The same reasoning also found mention in the Tripura High Court judgement, with the two-judge bench stating that animal sacrifice “cannot be considered essential and integral part of religion protected under Article 25(1) of the Constitution”.
The court also said the merger agreement, placed on record by the petitioner, does not refer to performance of any practice, custom or tradition of animal sacrifice in Tripura.
According to Debbarman, the court has no basis in saying that animal sacrifice is not an essential part of Hindu faith of the tantrik tradition. “You can ban firecracker, because that is not an essential part of Diwali. It started much later,” he said.
Debbarman, son of the last king of Tripura Kirit Bikram Kishore Manikya, said the extent of sacrifice should be brought down through a dialogue in the society. “But courts cannot play the role of priests. Courts can interpret law. Sacrifice of animals should be done in a more humane way. Court could have directed us to limit the slaughter,” he said.
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