Kerala HC junks plea against Sacrifices Prohibition Act

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Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Published: June 20, 2020 5:47:07 am

A division bench of Kerala High Court has rejected a petition calling for the Kerala Animals and Birds Sacrifices Prohibition Act, 1968 to be declared unconstitutional, discriminatory and void. (File Photo)

A division bench of Kerala High Court has rejected a petition calling for the Kerala Animals and Birds Sacrifices Prohibition Act, 1968 to be declared unconstitutional, discriminatory and void.

The petitioners, Muraleedharan T and Vimal C V, both natives of Kozhikode, said the Act adversely affected them in practicing the Hindu religion, and wanted that the state not interfere with religious practices like sacrifice of animals and birds through such enactments.

The petitioners had stated that other religions like Christianity and Islam have a similar set of practices, and propitiating sacrifice to Jehovah is considered as a sacrament as per Biblical tenets. They also argued that killing is not a prohibited act, but propitiation of deity is a prohibited act. It dehors their fundamental rights as Hindus to practice and profess religion, as per Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution, they said.

Upholding the constitutional validity of the act, the bench of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly said, “With due regard to the argument advanced Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1968, that nothing contained in this Act shall render it an offence to kill any animal, in a manner required by the religion of any community, there are no materials on record to substantiate which community of the religion is required under the Hindu or any other religion, to kill an animal, for propitiating, if not personal consumption, in the manner required in the religion. We are also of the view that the expression used in Section 28 is ‘killing’ and not sacrifice and, therefore, the said provision is intended to protect the manner of killing by any particular community, but not for any religious purpose.’’

The court said the state has brought out the Act to prohibit the killing of animals and birds in or in the precincts of Hindu temples in Kerala, in the name of sacrifice or with an intention of propitiating any deity.

Quoting the Supreme Court, the division bench said that freedom to manage religious affairs protected under Article 26 of the Constitution makes it explicit that such a concept deals with freedom of establishment of the religion itself and not the rituals that are developed by the worshipers, after the formation of religion to satisfy their personal needs.

Acts such as sacrificing animals for propitiating the deity are not protected under Article 25 of the Constitution. “Therefore, merely by stating that freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation as well as freedom to manage religious affairs are protected under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India, the petitioners are entitled to get the reliefs as sought for, to continue with sacrifices for propitiating any deity, cannot be sustained. So much so, no materials are forthcoming to establish that sacrificing animals and birds are essentials of the religion to drive home the case that Act, 1968 is interfering with Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution,’’ said the court.

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