Kerala High Court has rejected a petition and upheld the constitutional validity of the Kerala Animals and Birds Sacrifices Prohibition Act, 1968 which prohibits the sacrifice of birds and animals for the propitiation of deity.
A petition was moved before Kerala High Court by petitioner Muraleedharan T and Vimal C V, both natives of Kozhikode seeking declaring the Sacrifice Prohibition Act unconstitutional, discriminatory, and void. The petitioner stated in his plea that the legislation is restricting them from practicing the Hindu religion and doesn’t want any kind of interference in such religious practices of sacrificing the animals and birds.
The petitioners also added to their plea that the 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 the 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.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly said 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.
The bench also stated that 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.
“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,” stated the Kerala High Court judgment.