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SC seeks Kerala govt’s reply on plea against law prohibiting animal sacrifice

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Thursday asked the Kerala government to respond to an appeal against the high court decision upholding the Constitutional validity of the state’s law which prohibits animal or bird sacrifice for propitiating a deity.

A bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices R Subhash Reddy and A S Bopanna issued notice on the appeal filed by one P E Gopalakrishnan, claiming that animal sacrifice was an integral part of his religious practice.

The plea said the high court order violates his fundamental right under Article 25(1) of the Constitution.

On June 16, the Kerala High Court dismissed the PIL challenging the validity of the Kerala Animals and Bird Sacrifices Prohibition Act on the ground that no material was brought on record to establish that the practice was essential to the religion.

The petitioners have contended before the high court that provisions of Prevention of Cruelty Act, 1960, permit sacrifice for the purpose of religious practice.

The high court had observed that Prevention of Cruelty Act does not have the word “sacrifice” for the purpose of religion.

In the appeal before the top court, the petitioner has contended that the high court dismissed the PIL without considering the contentions raised in his impleadment application.

He argued that animal sacrifice is an integral practice of ‘Shakthi’ worship and due to the law he was not able to make the offering.

The petitioner has further contended that the Act criminalises animal sacrifice to the exclusion of identical practices by other religious communities, without the same being based on any intelligible differentia.

“The impugned 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 of India,” the plea said.

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