Ban on animal sacrifice in temples arbitrary, says plea in Supreme Court

“Kerala law allows killing of animals for consumption but not to propitiate a deity”

June 26, 2020 02:24 am | Updated 02:24 am IST - NEW DELHI

An appeal was filed in the Supreme Court on Thursday against a decision of the Kerala High Court to dismiss a challenge to the constitutional validity of a State law that prohibits sacrifice of animals and birds in temples to please the deity.

The High Court had summarily rejected a plea against the Kerala Animals and Bird Sacrifices Prohibition Act of 1968 on June 16.

The appeal is filed by P.E. Gopalakrishnan and some others, who are Shakthi worshippers for whom animal sacrifice is an integral part of their religion. 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.

“Selective application’

The appellants said restrictions imposed by the law was leading to the “incomplete performance of bali and diminishing the power of the kula devatha .”

“They reasonably apprehend the wrath of Devi,” the appeal said.

The appellants accused the Act of “selective application only to Hindu temples, despite similar practices being carried out in other religious places.”

The appeal also 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 are to be prohibited, let it be so for all purposes — religious or otherwise.

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