‘Courts are slow in interfering in religious matters’
Srinagar: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition seeking a ban on the practice of slaughtering animals as part of ‘religious sacrifices’.
The Bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sindhu Sharma also noted that ordinarily, the Courts are always slow in interfering in religious matters or with sentiments based upon religion or on the practice of any community.
Essentially, the Court was dealing with a plea moved by one Tek Chand in the capacity of a Public Spirited Pujari of a Hindu Temple for a direction to declare Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 as unconstitutional.
It may be noted that Section 28 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act provides that nothing contained in the Act shall render it an offense to kill the animals in a manner required by the religion or any community.
At the outset, the Court noted that the petitioner had failed to disclose how he is the public-spirited person or the kind of activities taken by him in the past in public interest to recognize him as a public-spirited person.
Apart from this, taking into account the averments in the plea against the practice of religious sacrifice of animals, the Court observed thus:
“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 the exercise of discretionary jurisdiction.”
“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 the exercise of discretionary jurisdiction,” the Court said.
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 the 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, the plea added.
With regard to Section 28 of the 1960 Act, the Court noted that the practice of killing innocent animals had been sufficiently taken care of by the Act and, as such, there was no need for issuing any further direction prohibiting the practice, if any, of killing animals and it is left to the executive to apply the Act strictly.