The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to examine the constitutional validity of the Kerala Animals and Bird Sacrifices Prohibition Act of 1968 that prohibits sacrifice of animals and birds in temples to ‘please’ the deity.
Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad A. Bobde, heading a three-judge Bench, highlighted the “dichotomy” in animal protection law that allows killing of animals for food but does not permit “killing of animals for offer to a deity and then consumption”.
Similarly, the CJI said how the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 allows killing of animals but prohibits cruelty to animals.
“So, killing is not cruelty?” he asked.
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The oral remarks came in an appeal filed by P.E. Gopalakrishnan and some others, who are Shakthi worshippers, and for whom, animal sacrifice is an integral part of the worship. In their appeal, filed through advocate A. Karthik, they said animal sacrifice was an “essential religious practice” and the High Court had no power to interfere.
“The Act criminalises the intent behind the animal sacrifice, and not animal sacrifice per se. If the sacrifice is not for propitiating any deity but for personal consumption even in the precincts of temple, it is not forbidden. This arbitrary classification is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution”, the appeal said.
It argued that Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1960 does not make killing of animals for religious purposes an offence.
However the 1968 State law bans killing of animals and birds for religious sacrifices but not for personal consumption. This amounted to arbitrary classification. The appellants said if killing of animals and birds was to be prohibited, let it be so for all purposes - religious or otherwise.