The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice in a plea assailing the decision of the Kerala High Court to uphold the constitutional validity of a state law that bans animal and bird sacrifice in temples.
The Bench of Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices R Subhash Reddy and AS Bopanna issued notice in the petition and sought a reply from the State of Kerala.
It is the petitioner’s case that the Act in question prohibits the killing of animals and birds in temples and temple precincts solely for the purpose of propiating a deity. Should the killing be carried out in the temple premises, although for the purpose of consumption, the same does not attract prohibition under this Act. This classification is arbitrary, according to the petitioner.
The plea also raises the grounds of the statute being violative of Article 14 of the Constitution given that it bars such sacrifices only in one religion and excludes identical practices in other religions. The Act, therefore, is arbitrary, the plea stated.
The petitioner was represented by Senior Advocates V Giri and KV Vishwanathan along with Advocates K Parameshwar and A Karthik.
The respondent was represented by Senior Advocate Krishnan Venugopal, who was briefed by Karanjawala & Co.
The petitioner belongs to family that has traditionally followed Shakthi worship of which animal sacrifice is an inalienable part, the plea points out. The petitioner himself is involved in propagating the teachings of Shakthi worship and the Act in question impinges upon his fundamental rights under Articles 25 and 26, it is contended.
Animal sacrifice has been an essential religious practice mandated by religious texts and scriptures, the petitioner added.
“The exclusion of identical practices by other religious communities, without the same being founded on any intelligible differentia justifying the classification made by the impugned legislation.”
The plea submitted,
“Despite this, the Hon’ble High Court has reasoned that there is no repugnancy between the impugned Act and The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (Central Legislation) since the former is to prohibit sacrifice of animals and birds in the precincts of temples in the State of Kerala and the latter is to prevent cruelty to animals.”
This plea is similar to two pending matters before the Supreme Court touching upon the issue of animal and bird sacrifice in the states of Tripura and Himachal Pradesh. The Supreme Court has tagged this plea with the pending similar matters.