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"Courts Are Slow In Interfering In Religious Matters": J&K&L HC Rejects PIL Against 'Religious Sacrifice' Of Animals

Sparsh Upadhyay
20 Feb 2022 4:00 PM GMT
Courts Are Slow In Interfering In Religious Matters: J&K&L HC Rejects PIL Against Religious Sacrifice Of Animals
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The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently rejected a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea seeking prohibition on the illegal practice of slaughtering of animals on the basis of superstition and in the name of religious sacrifices.With this, the Bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sindhu Sharma also noted that ordinarily, the Courts are always slow in interfering...

The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently rejected a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea seeking prohibition on the illegal practice of slaughtering of animals on the basis of superstition and in the name of religious sacrifices.

With this, the Bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sindhu Sharma also noted that ordinarily, the Courts are always slow in interfering in religious matters or with sentiments based upon religion or on the practice of any community.

Essentially, the Court was dealing with a plea moved by one Tek Chand in the capacity of a Public Spirited Pujari of a Hindu Temple for a direction to declare Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 as unconstitutional.

It may be noted that Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act provides that nothing contained in the Act shall render it an offence to kill the animals in a manner required by the religion or any community.

At the outset, the Court noted that the petitioner had failed to disclose how he is the public-spirited person or the kind of activities taken by him in the past in public interest to recognize him as a public-spirited person.

Apart from this, taking into account the averments in the plea against the practice of religious sacrifice of animals, the Court observed thus:

"Which practice of slaughtering or sacrificing animals is legal or illegal depends upon the traditions and customs of a particular religion and the place of worship. It is a matter of evidence which cannot be appreciated in the exercise of discretionary jurisdiction."

Further, with regard to Section 28 of the 1960 Act, the Court noted that the practice of killing innocent animals had been sufficiently taken care of by the Act and, as such, there was no need for issuing any further direction prohibiting the practice, if any, of killing animals and it is left to the executive to apply the Act strictly.

Taking into account Section 28 of the Act, the Court remarked thus:

"The aforesaid provision is a saving provision and its object is to not to criminalize killing of animals for religious purposes only which is a policy decision as per the wisdom of the lawmakers and is beyond judicial review. The aforesaid provision only saves the killing of animals in a manner required by religion or any community. The said provision in no way offends the provisions of the Constitution so as to declare it to be unconstitutional rather, it is in aid of the object for which the aforesaid Act has been enacted"

In the aforesaid facts and circumstances, the Court did not find any merit in the petition, however, the Court did add that if any offence is committed in the killing of animals, it would be open to make a complaint and initiate action in accordance with the law.

"In the case in some religious places the practice of sacrificing animals is being carried on in violation of the provisions of the Act, the petitioner is free to approach the concerned Head of the Administration of the District, who will consider the matter and take appropriate action in accordance with law," the Court said as it parted with the order.

Case title - Tek Chand v. Union Territory of J&K and others

Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (JKL) 5

Click here To Read/Download Order

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