Refusing to ban killing of animals for religious purposes, SC says cannot interfere with centuries old traditions

Refusing to ban killing of animals for religious purposes, SC says cannot interfere with centuries old traditions

The Supreme Court today said it “cannot close its eyes to centuries-old traditions” and refused to entertain a public interest litigation which wanted a ban on the practice of killing of animals in the name of religion.

“In villages people feel by appeasing gods, they will get rain..the legislation-- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960-- itself says it is not an offence if it is killed in a manner prescribed.You should pinpoint to us the violations and at which temples or religious places.. These are generalized statements”, said a bench of Chief Justice H L Dattu and Justice Amitava Roy.

“At the end of day a balance..a harmony has to be maintained between faith, religion and such orders These are very sensitive matters. We cannot close our eyes to centuries old traditions followed and start examining them”, the bench told senior lawyer Raju Ramachandran, who appeared for the petitioner V Radhakrishnan, a journalist from Tamil Nadu.

The bench however allowed the plea of Ramachandran to tag the petition along with petitions challenging the September 1, 2014 order of the Himachal Pradesh High Court banning slaughter of animals in the temples in the state.

“Sacrifice causes immense pain and suffering to the innocent animals. The innocent animals cannot be permitted to be sacrificed to appease the god/deity in a barbaric manner. Compassion is the basic tenet in all religions. The practice of animal sacrifice is a social evil and is required to be curbed.” with these words, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had said.

Ramachandran, assisted by lawyer Sriram Parakkat had sought a writ, order or direction in the  nature of mandamus declaring that the practice of animal sacrifice under the sanction of any religious belief or otherwise is unconstitutional, illegal and is violative of Article 14, 21, 29 and 30 of the Constitution of India;

They wanted declaration of   Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 as “unconstitutional” in so far as the same condones the practice of animal killing in the name of religion.

The Petitioner stated that extreme acts of violence is committed on animals, and more often than not by devotees who are untrained to carry out the execution of an animal in the most minimally pain causing manner.

“Further, it is submitted that these sacrifices often take place in full public view of children, and other animals, and therefore, the same is a celebration of barbaric and ancient practices that have their foundation in superstition”, it said.

The petitioner submitted that the animal rights movement must simultaneously be a moral crusade and a social movement that pursues a strategy combining idealistic objectives of abolition with pragmatic goals of embedding the values of animal rights into public policy.

“Religion cannot be allowed to become a tool for perpetuating untold miseries on animals and if anybody tries to impose its direction on the followers in violation of the Constitution or validly enacted law, it will amount to an illegal act. The extra-Constitutional bodies have no role and cannot issue directives to the followers to not obey the command of law”, said the PIL filed by advocate Ankur S Kulkarni and settled by advocate Sriram Parakkat.

The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 is the Act of parliament which was enacted to prevent the infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering on animals and to amend the laws relating to the prevention of cruelty to animals. As per the provisions of the law the Animal Welfare Board of India was constituted as the statutory body to carry out the purposes of the Act. S.3 of the Act which enjoins upon any person having charge of animals to take all reasonable measures to ensure the well-being of animals and to prevent infliction upon such animal of unnecessary pain or suffering. Further S. 11 of the Act provides for various offences with the view to prevent the cruel treatment of animals.

The PIL said that “animal sacrifice is not an inherently integral or essential part of any religion, and the same is merely a proliferation of superstitious beliefs that were existent in religion as a result of a hampered civilization”.

Read the Petition here.