Reported By: Salil Tiwari
Last Updated: May 29, 2023, 19:49 IST
The Kerala High Court recently ordered an inquiry into alleged illegal slaughter activities of birds and animals in the guise of ritualistic sacrifice in a village in Pukkattupady, a suburb of the city of Kochi in Kerala.
While noting that the allegations were that the activities were being done in violation of various norms and laws, the single-judge bench of Justice VG Arun rejected the contention raised that animal sacrifice, being an essential and integral part of one’s religious belief and practice, cannot be interfered with, even if it causes a nuisance to others.
The court quoted Dr BR Ambedkar and said, “…true religious practice should be guided by reason, equality and humanistic values, rather than blind adherence to traditions. All unhealthy, unscientific and deleterious practices are to be prevented, even if it is done in the name of religion”.
The HC observed that though Article 25 of the Constitution grants all persons the right to freely profess, practice, and propagate religion, this is subject to public order, morality, health, and the other provisions of Part III of the Constitution.
“…the freedom and right under Article 25 are subservient to the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21. Being so, the expression of religious freedom by the conduct of poojas and rituals by the petitioner cannot result in the deprivation of the right to decent living guaranteed to the other residents,” said the court.
A man approached the HC, seeking action against another man in his village who had created a temple-like structure in his building to perform animal sacrifice.
The petitioner had claimed that apart from the excessive noise, the blood of the slaughtered animals could be seen flowing on the road and carcasses were strewn all over the residential area. A series of photographs were also presented before the court.
The petitioner had alleged that the temple had been built illegally, without the prior approval of the district administration as mandated in Clause 23 of the Manual of Guidelines to Prevent and Control Disturbances and to Promote Communal Harmony, 2005, and also without obtaining permission envisaged under the Kerala Panchayat Building Rules.
The allegations were also supported by the Government Pleader and the counsel representing the village panchayat.
The court noted that in the matter, the approach of the police and revenue authorities was weak-kneed and jittery. “The authorities should be mindful of the fact that the laws of this country are equally applicable to all citizens and no special treatment can be meted out to any person on religious grounds,” it said.
The HC also held that the concerned panchayat had failed to perform its duty as per Section 219K of the Panchayati Raj Act which prohibits the flowing of wastewater or any other filth to any portion of the road, except to a drain or cesspool.
Based on these findings, the court ordered an inquiry into the allegations raised in the plea and directed the police authorities and the panchayat to take appropriate actions if a violation of laws is found.