Supreme Court to examine Kerala Act on animal, bird sacrifices


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Animal sacrifice and associated issues

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.

Try this question for mains:

Q. The ritual slaughters of animals in India is a greater ethical issue than a legal one. Analyse.

The dichotomy over ritual slaughter

  • The Supreme Court is set to 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 not permit “killing of animals for an offer to a deity and then consumption”.

Why did SC interfere?

  • However, 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 and not animal sacrifice per se.
  • 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 typically 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.

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