According to the petitioners, the Kerala Animals and Birds Sacrifices Act, 1968, adversely affected the practice of religion as written in the scriptures.

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news Court Friday, June 19, 2020 - 19:20

The Kerala High Court has upheld the validity of the Kerala Animals and Birds Sacrifices Act, 1968, after two people had filed a petition challenging the constitutionality of the act.

The Act, which prohibits the sacrifice of birds and animals in temples or in its precincts, was challenged by Muraleedharan T and Vimal CV of Kozhikode, reports Live Law. They said that it adversely affected the practice of religion, as inscribed in scriptures. They also contended that other religions also have similar practices in place and argued that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, clearly excluded animal killing for religious purposes as an offence.

The High Court bench comprising Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chaly said that '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 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 order said.

The judges also said, “Petitioners, who claim to be public interest litigants, have to place materials to support their contention that there is no Presidential assent for the Kerala Animals and Birds Sacrifices Prohibition Act, 1968, which, in the case on hand, has not been done.”

Citing the Supreme Court judgments on the subject, the judges said that unless the act that the petitioners mention is essential of the religion, they are not protected by Article 25 of the Indian Constitution. 

“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 relief 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 HC bench said.

Read: Feeding after sunset: How Kerala is taking care of strays during lockdown

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