Q. Is it illegal to sacrifice animals?
A. Yes, animal sacrifice is illegal. The act of animal sacrifice is covered under local Municipal Corporation Acts, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It is also specifically forbidden in the following States under The Prohibition of Bird and Animal Sacrifice Act:
a) Andhra Pradesh
g) Tamil Nadu
Local Municipal Corporation Acts
Municipality laws prohibit the slaughter of any animal within a Corporation area other than in a licensed slaughterhouse. Since temples and streets, where animal sacrifices usually occur, are unlicensed, it becomes illegal to slaughter animals at these places.
The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960
The Act prohibits the infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering on an animal and makes such unnecessary pain and suffering a penal offence. Sub-section (3) of section 11 PCA says that it is the duty of every person having the care and charge of any animal to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of such animal and to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering. The penalty under this Act is, in the case of the first offence, a fine which shall extend to fifty rupees and if it is the case of second or subsequent offence committed within three years of the previous offence, a fine of not less than twenty-five rupees but which may extend to one hundred rupees or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months or with both. Also, in the case of a second offence, the offender's vehicle shall be confiscated, and he will never be allowed to keep an animal again.
Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972
This Act prohibits damage to any wild animal which under section 39 is considered to be government property. The definition of an "animal" in the Act includes amphibians, birds, reptiles and mammals and their young ones. In the case of birds and reptiles, even their eggs are included in this category. Section 51 of the Act provides the penalty for any person guilty of an offence under this Act. The accused on conviction will be punishable with imprisonment for a term of three years or with a fine of twenty five thousand rupees or with both. And in the case of a second or subsequent offence, the term of imprisonment will be seven years with a fine of ten thousand rupees. This is particularly applicable to tribal rituals that involve the catching and killing of wild animals.
Indian Penal Code (IPC)
Section 268 of IPC, 1860 enables a person to file a chargesheet to prohibit the sale or distribution of the meat obtained from a sacrificed animal in any public place, other than those which are registered for this purpose. Also, the killing of an animal in any public place amounts to a public nuisance and annoyance to the public. According to section 268 of the IPC, a person is guilty of a public nuisance, who does any act or is guilty of an illegal omission which causes any common injury, danger or annoyance to persons who may have occasion to use any public right. A common nuisance is not excused on the ground that it causes some convenience or advantage. Also, according to sections 269 and 270 of IPC, negligently and malignantly doing any act which is likely to spread infection of any disease dangerous to life, amounts to a punishable offence with imprisonment of two years or with a fine or with both.