Ranchi/Deoghar, Oct. 6: Jharkhand High Court today issued a notice to the Deoghar deputy commissioner and the Baidyanath Dham temple management in response to a petition seeking to ban animal slaughter during Durga Puja.
Petitioner Ajit Kumar has alleged that as many as 40 buffaloes and 300 goats were sacrificed on Navami and Dashami every year in the Kali temple within the main Shiv temple in Deoghar in violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
He also claimed the sacrifice was a financial burden on the Baba Dham Temple Management Board, which has sanctioned Rs 6 lakh for the rituals this year.
In response, a division bench headed by Chief Justice Prakash Tatia observed that the board had not utilised the funds properly and killing of innocent animals was gory.
The next hearing has been scheduled on October 10.
The temple board was constituted by an order of the high court on May 8, 2002 in response to a petition seeking proper management of the Baidyanath shrine in Deoghar, one of 12 jyotirlingams.
Kumar’s counsel Delip Jerath alleged the board wasn’t functioning as per norms and meetings weren’t attended regularly by all members. He said his client had suggested in his petition that money sanctioned for the rituals during Durga Puja every year could be used for socially productive purposes like setting up orphanages, old age homes and dispensaries for devotees and the poor.
Reacting to the notice, Krishnanand Jha, a senior member of the temple board, said: “The practice of animal sacrifice in the temple is attached to religion and faith which must not be interfered with at any level.”
Jha said the practice of animal sacrifice has been on since time immemorial. Similar practices were followed in other important temples of the country and also in Nepal.
The temple board, which organises sacrifices during various festivals, floats tenders for the supply of goats and buffaloes.
On the eve of Durga Puja animals are sacrificed at Bhitra Khand — outside the sanctum sanctorum of the Shiva temple — where an idol of Durga is in place.
Animal sacrifices are conducted by the board regularly every Tuesday and Saturday, as well during festivals, in the temples of goddess Bagulamukhi, Durga, Kali and Parvati.
Individuals are also allowed to offer animals for sacrifice. However, no sacrifice takes place during the month-long Shravan mela in July-August.