J-K HC dismisses PIL seeking ban on ‘religious sacrifice’ of animals

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Srinagar: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh recently dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition seeking ban on practice of slaughtering animals as part of religious sacrifices, reported Bar and Bench.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sindhu Sharma said that the practice of killing innocent animals is dealt with sufficiently under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and whether any individual act would constitute an offence, is a matter of evidence.

“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 exercise of discretionary jurisdiction,” the Court said.;

The petition by a Hindu pujari also challenged the Constitutional validity of Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

Section 28 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.

Chand stated in his plea that the religion of Islam does not prescribe any form of animal sacrifice and the same is a cruel age old practice that has arisen out of the misinterpretation of the texts of Islamic faith.

Not only qurbani but any other form of accepted cruelty to animals is beyond the imagination of a civilized society and the same is constitutionally abhorrent and requires to be banned, plea added.

The petitioner also placed on record a number of temples where animal sacrifice used to take place in the district of Kathua.

The Court noted that Section 28 is a saving provision and its object is to exempt from criminalisation, killing of animals for religious purposes.

It is a policy decision as per the wisdom of the lawmakers and is beyond judicial review, the Court said.

“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,” the Court said.

The Court, therefore, dismissed the petition and asked petitioner to to approach the concerned head of administration of the district, who will consider the matter and take appropriate action in accordance with law if in case in some religious places the practice of sacrificing animals is being carried on in violation of the provisions of the Act.

Deputy Advocate General KDS Kotwal appeared on behalf of the Union Territory of J-K and others while advocate Ankur Sharma appeared on behalf of the petitioner.

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