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Allegedly, a man had created a temple without authorities' approval inside his building where he had been performing ritualistic sacrifices of birds and animals.
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 alleged 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 nuisance to others.
Court quoted Dr. B.R. 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".
Court observed that though Article 25 of the Constitution grants all persons the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion, the same 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," held the court regarding the case at hand.
The court was hearing a plea moved by a man seeking direction to the Edathala village Panchayat and other authorities to remove an illegal temple-like structure that had been allegedly created to perform ritualistic sacrifices.
The petitioner had alleged that a man namely Anand P had been conducting poojas and rituals in his building in Palancherry Mugal in Edathala Grama Panchayat which had made the life of other residents of the area difficult.
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 said temple like structure 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 the permission envisaged under the Kerala Panchayat Building Rules.
While claiming that slaughtering of animals is prohibited under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, the petitioner had further contended that in spite of being fully aware of the violations and there being a possibility of a law and order situation, the police was not taking any action in the matter.
The allegations were also supported by the Government Pleader and the counsel representing the village panchayat.
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," said the court.
Court also held that the concerned Panchayat was also at fault in the present matter as rather than stating that it had no power to take action against the accused, it could have performed its duty as per Section 219K of the Panchayath 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 the above findings, Court ordered an inquiry into the allegations raised in the present plea and directed the police authorities to take appropriate action under the Kerala Animals and Birds Sacrifices Prohibition Act and the Panchayat to take appropriate follow up action if violation of the provisions of the Kerala Panchayat Raj Act and the Building Rules is found.
Case Title: RAVEENDRAN P.T v. STATE OF KERALA AND OTHERS
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