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Kerala Act on animal, bird sacrifices

Why in news?

The Supreme Court has agreed to examine the constitutional validity of the Kerala Animals and Birds Sacrifices Prohibition Act of 1968 that prohibits sacrifice of animals and birds in temples to ‘please’ the deity

The dichotomy over ritual slaughter

  • The Supreme Court will analyse how the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act of 1960 allows the killing of animals but prohibits cruelty to animals.
  • It highlighted the “dichotomy” in animal protection law that allows the killing of animals for food but does prohibits killing of animals for an offer to a deity and then consumption.

Why did SC interfere?

  • The 1968 Kerala law bans the killing of animals and birds for religious sacrifices but not for personal consumption. This amounted to arbitrary classification.

Legal protections to Animal sacrifice

  • The Kerala Act criminalizes the intent behind the animal sacrifice.
  • If the sacrifice is not for propitiating any deity but for personal consumption even in the precincts of the temple, it is not forbidden.
  • Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1960 does not make the killing of animals for religious purposes and offence.

Appeal citing the necessity of the practice

  • The oral remarks came in an appeal filed by P.E. Gopalakrishnan and some others, who are Shakthi worshippers, and for whom, animal sacrifice is an integral part of the worship.
  • In their appeal, they said the animal sacrifice was an “essential religious practice” and the High Court had no power to interfere.

Why animal sacrifice needs a rethink?

  • All religions call for compassion, no religion requires killing or eating animals and hacking animals to death with weapons.
  • The way executioners handle, transport and kill animals for sacrifices and consumption violates animal transport and slaughter laws, making it a punishable offence.
  • There exist ample ambiguities in religious texts over allowing the ritual slaughter of animals.
  • Moreover, the practice of animal sacrifice normalizes killing and desensitizes humans to violence against animals.

Legal safeguard for animals.

  • In 1976, the 42nd amendment incorporated protection of wildlife and forests in the Directive Principles.
  • It also included forests and protection of wild animals in the Concurrent List of the constitution.
  • Article 48 A, mandate that the State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.
  • Article 51 A (g) of the Constitution states that, it shall be the fundamental duty of every citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including forests and Wildlife.
  • According to the Twelfth Schedule of Indian constitution, Municipalities may undertake certain duties pertaining to the regulation of slaughterhouses and tanneries.

Wildlife Protection Act, 1972

This Act provides for the protection of the country’s wild animals, birds and plant species, in order to ensure environmental and ecological security. Among other things, the Act lays down restrictions on hunting many animal species


December 2023