The High Court of Kerala has dismissed a petition seeking declaration of the Kerala Animals and Birds Sacrifices Prohibition Act, 1968 as unconstitutional, discriminatory and void.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly was hearing a petition filed by Muraleedharan T and Vimal C V who submitted that the Act adversely affected them in practicing the Hindu religion, and urged the Court to direct the state not interfere with religious practices like sacrifice of animals and birds through such enactments.
Referring to other religious practices the petitioners submitted that Christianity and Islam have a similar set of practices, and propitiating sacrifice to Jehovah is considered as a sacrament as per Biblical tenets.
The petitioners further submitted that killing is not a prohibited act, but propitiation of deity is a prohibited act. Moreover as per Article 25 and 26 or the Constitution, it infringes their fundamental rights as Hindus to practice and profess religion, submitted the petitioners.
The bench however upholding the constitutional validity of the Act observed that “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 further said that the purpose of the Act is 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.
The Court further commenting on Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution said “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.”
-India Legal Bureau
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