No, SC hasn’t lifted ban on animal sacrifice in Kullu Dushera
Kullu: Very recently, Maheshwar Singh, MLA from Kullu and chief caretaker of Lord Raghunath, declared that he had moved the Supreme Court against the blanket ban imposed on animal sacrifice in Himachal by the State High Court in its oders passed on September 26, 2014.
He said the SC, in its interim order passed on April 10, 2017, provided interim relief on animal sacrifice for Kullu Dushera.
English daily Statesman had also suggested same in an article titled “‘Animal sacrifice’ tradition to be back in Himachal Pradesh” published on April 15, 2017. Though the article did mention that it should be done in compliance with law, it did not explain that the case of Kullu Dushera was not an exception.
Similarly, an article published by Tribune on September 5, 2017, was titled “Nod to animal sacrifice at Kullu Dasehra”
The people of Kullu are rejoiced believing that ban was lifted and the animal sacrifice will take place in a traditional manner, as it used to be prior to HC ban.
If one bothers to go in details of the Supreme Court order, then it clearly allows performing the animal sacrifice strictly in compliance with directions of the court and in accordance with slaughter-house rules. Are Maheshwar Singh and the Kullu administration complying with all mandatory directions?
In fact, the Supreme Court has clearly provided for a compendium of various acts and agreed to allow animal slaughter remaining within the law and court guidelines. There is a list of official permissions and procedures defined by the court in order to slaughter an animal for food. These guidelines also apply to animal sacrifice in religious rituals.
Activist Sonali Purewal from Kasuali-based People for Animals (PFA) organization talked to Himachal Watcher regarding the lie that was told to people through media.
For instance, in order to slaughter an animal for any purpose, one needs a licensed stun gun, licensed butcher, permission from Municipal Commissioner Kullu, acknowledgment letter from AWBI, veterinary officer-in-charge of the animal sacrifices etc. The court had also directed to inform animal activist Gauri Mulekhi regarding any such animal sacrifice.
By simply seeking permission for a massive public pandal from the Municipal Council/ Corporation does not suffice. Animal sacrifice has to be done as per law and as per the manners prescribed in the PCA Act and the interim order of the Supreme Court,
Sonali told Himachal Watcher.
She alleged that the district administration or Maheshwar Singh has not fulfilled any of these mandatory conditions laid by the apex court in its order except obtaining a permission letter from the Municipal Commissioner to set up pandal (an enclosed stall).
Advocate Vandana Misra, the counsel for the petitioner Sonali Purewal, who also shares the credit for the ban imposed by the HP HC, also expressed serious concern over disregard to the law. Any violation of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order shall be brought to the notice of the court, she said. Vandana is currently fighting the case in the Supreme Court.
The DC Kullu had told the Tribune in the said article
The district administration would maintain a close watch over animal sacrifice and it would take place at a confined place as per the directions of the honorable court.
Only ensuring slaughter in enclosed pandal to shroud the bloodshed from public view is just one of the guidelines.
Sonali said that she wrote a letter to the Deputy Commissioner and Municipal Commissioner of Kullu to confirm the legal status of the animal sacrifice scheduled to take place this Dushera. However, none of them even replied to her letter. It clearly suggests the administration has fulfilled none of the mandatory conditions.
Take a look at the list of conditions laid by the court in the provided compendium:
• The Section 11(3)(e) of the PCA Act states, “commission or omission of any act in the course of the destruction or the preparation for the destruction of any animal as food for mankind unless such destruction or preparation was accompanied by the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering.”
• Stunning (rendering animals unconscious before slitting their throat and bleeding them to death) is an important procedure to prevent “unnecessary suffering” when the animals are killed for meat.
• Rule 6 (4) 4 of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Slaughter House) Rules, 2001 states that “Every slaughterhouse shall provide a separate space for stunning of animals prior to slaughter, bleeding and dressing of the carcasses” making stunning mandatory during the slaughter of animals.”
• Food Safety and Regulations Standards (Licensing & Registration of Food Businesses), 2011, Section 4, Part IV, Schedule 4 explains various stunning procedures to be adopted, with the recommendation for different species.
• Registration/ licensing of slaughterhouses:
• The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 under Rule 3 (1), requires recognition or licensing of a slaughterhouse.
• Guidelines of the Food Safety and Regulations Standards (Food Products Standards and Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, Regulation 2.5. 1 specifies species of animals that can be killed for meat.
• Under this Regulation “animal” means an animal belonging to Bovines, Caprines, Suillines, and includes poultry and fish.
• No other animals including camels, rabbits etc. can be slaughtered under this provision of the law.
Sonali said despite PFA’s efforts and correspondence with the DC and MC office asking them to publish public notices to clearly state that animal sacrifice is still banned in Himachal as the court has not lifted it, nothing was done.
No such notice was issued by the district administration or any other authority in any newspaper or through any medium.
Moreover, as per the interim order, it is mandatory to officially inform the Animal Welfare Board of India of any ritual sacrifice to be done “in accordance with the law”.
However, AWBI or animal activist Gauri Mulekhi has not received any such letter at all, said Sonali. Also, no information is provided about the manner in which the sacrifice would take place.
If the animal sacrifice will continue as planned in Kullu during the upcoming festivities this will be in total violation of the Supreme Court order and all the concerned persons participating in it along with the Officials officiating over it will be in Contempt of the Supreme Court, she said.
PFA has warned the district administration and every party involved in the unlawful animal sacrifice of legal action if the directions of the court are not followed. It would be a clear contempt of court orders, she said.
Now take a look at the questions that PFA had asked the DC and MC office Kullu to answer to prove everything would be done in total compliance with the law:
1. Does your office have a licensed stun gun? – Which is mandatory for any animal slaughter to take place, to ensure the least amount of pain and suffering in accordance with the law?
2. Has your office appointed an authorised licensed butcher or person who has been trained to use the stun gun as per rules in the PCA act?
If you do, please attach copies of both the licensed stun gun and the authorised person (adhar card with license, and information on where he was trained)
3. A copy of the permission from Municipal Commissioner Kullu for ritual slaughter given to Shri Maheshwar Singh along with the copy of the same sent to Gauri Mulekhi and AWBI.
4. Acknowledgement from Gauri Maulekhi and AWBI – giving their ok and consent to the Kullu Dussera ritual sacrifices.
5. Name and number of the VO in charge of the animal sacrifices – who is to check the animals and give their ok to the concerned people appointed by the Supreme Court as mentioned above?
6. A list of the number of animals that are to be slaughtered over the Kullu Dussehra.
However, he did not reply or even responded to any of the above questions asked by the PFA.
Over 60 percent of slaughterhouses in Himachal are illegal because they do not fulfill legal requirements or standards. So, it is highly unlikely that a temporary slaughterhouse would be set up for Dushera,
Now, it is to be seen whether the Kullu administration and Maheshwar Singh would go ahead with the current plan of deliberately committing a contempt of court or fulfill all the court directions.