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Plea in SC against Kerala bird sacrifice prohibition act

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The Supreme Court today (July 16) issued notice in a plea challenging the constitutional validity of Kerala Animals and Bird Sacrifices Prohibition Act of 1968, which prohibits sacrifice of birds and animals in temples.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, and Justices R Subhash Reddy and AS Bopanna, was hearing an appeal filed by PE Gopalakrishnan, who has contended that animal sacrifice is an integral part of his religious practice and as such the Kerala Animals and Bird Sacrifices Prohibition Act of 1968 is violative of Article 25(1) of the Constitution.

The division bench of the Kerala High Court, comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly had, on June 16, dismissed the petition, upholding the constitutional validity of the Act and had 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.”

The petitioner has alleged that the order of dismissal of the High Court  was passed without considering the contentions raised by the petitioner in his impleadment application.

-India Legal Bureau

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