24 July 2019
Are Sri Lankan Buddhists Free to slaughter animals at their Temples?
A UK Tamil Diaspora leader forwarded a the declaration by the Federation of Saiva Hindu Temples UK confirming their opposition to Buddhist monks invading an area considered to be Hindu area by majority currently living in that electorate. The communication included the following:
‘We note with considerable concern that extremist Buddhist monks are taking the law into their hands and undermining the very constitutional safeguards to illegally construct a Buddhist shrine by destroying a popular Hindu temple for Ganesha in the land owned by the Hindus in Kanniya in Trincomalee with the backing of exclusively Buddhist Archaeological Department.’
The above was preceded by reference to Articles 9 , 10 and 14 (1) (e ) of the Sri Lankan Constitution. Unless one takes legal action in Court – the above sections of the Constitution become irrelevant. But to the extent we actually practiced them – they become valid and the truth in them works naturally to deliver as per our truth.
Article 3 of the Constitution states ‘In the Republic of Sri Lanka sovereignty is in the People and is inalienable. Sovereignty includes the powers of government, fundamental rights and the franchise.’
Article 4 (a)
the legislative power of the People shall be exercised by Parliament, consisting of elected representatives of the People and by the People at a Referendum ;
Article 4 (d)
the fundamental rights which are by the Constitution declared and recognized shall be respected, secured and advanced by all the organs of government and shall not be abridged, restricted or denied, save in the manner and to the extent hereinafter provided
Article 4 (e)
the franchise shall be exercisable at the election of the President of the Republic and of the Members of Parliament and at every Referendum by every citizen who has attained the age of eighteen years and who, being qualified to be an elector as hereinafter provided, has his name entered in the register of electors.
The most accessible of the three (government, fundamental rights and the franchise) to the self-governing citizen is Fundamental Rights. Articles 10 and 14 fall within the group that defines Fundamental Rights.
Every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.
Article 14 (1) (e)
Every citizen is entitled to the freedom, either by himself or in association with others, and either in public or in private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching
Article 9 of the Constitution states ‘The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).’
The contradiction is within Article 9 itself. If the Republic of Sri Lanka gives Buddhism foremost place – every non-Buddhist loses her/his Divine and Natural Sovereignty. Article 9 is invalid because it comes after Article 3 which states:
“In the Republic of Sri Lanka sovereignty is in the People and is inalienable. Sovereignty includes the powers of government, fundamental rights and the franchise”
To be valid every Sri Lankan needs to be grouped by a section that is self-balancing in terms of Sovereignty. Hence Buddhists cannot ‘tell’ non-Buddhists. Article 3 does not state ‘unless stated otherwise in another part of the Constitution.’ Any article that renders foremost status to a particular group provided for in the Constitution is invalid due to Article 3 – the mother article of status definition.
The Constitution has provided for self-interpretation and exercise of Fundamental Rights which include religious forms.
In the case of Kanniya wells in Trincomalee – all that a Hindu has to do is practice his belief . Likewise a Buddhist if there was no Article 9. But due to article 9 the Buddhist has to first assure that the Hindu is assured of her/his privacy before the Buddhist finds her/his private area to practice Buddhism. The two cannot live in the same place due to different ‘forms/structures’ through which their respective beliefs are declared/manifested.
The simplest and common measure of Sovereignty is Truth. Any form that does not connect to Truth is irrelevant. The Constitution is no exception to this. Truth is confirmed when it is perfectly balanced on a flat plane. Hence two sides of the coin and more to the point – government and opposition of equal status in a democratic structure.
If the Constitution of Sri Lanka is to be valid as per Democracy which requires us to view manifestations on a flat plane – one has to separate Buddhists on one side – and non-Buddhists on the other. The Buddhist side positions are already structured as per Buddha Sasana and the custodians of power being the Buddhist clergy.
The other side is democratically structured and every individual is protected by structure to take her/his autonomous place – as per her / his belief.
Recently the Sunday Times reported that the Court of Appeal set aside the ban imposed by the Jaffna High Court through its ruling against animal slaughter:
[The Court of Appeal (CoA) this week set aside the ban imposed by the Jaffna High Court (JHC), which prohibited animal sacrifice ritual in the Northern Province (NP), for the last 3 years…….
The Court held that animal sacrifice, as a religious practice, cannot be performed in violation of the Law of the land. If any religious place, including a Kovil, is to slaughter animals as animal sacrifice, a licence, under the Butchers Ordinance, shall be obtained and also, shall not violate the provisions of the Cruelty to Animals Act. ]
According to the Constitution – if the Hindu believed that slaughter was part of the religious rituals in her/his group – he was free to manifest it. But if the legislators sought to regulate slaughter through secular laws – then a Hindu is bound by that as all non-Buddhist religious followers are to be covered by the law. A Buddhist has no such exception. If the Buddha Sasana prohibits animal slaughter at the temple then the Judiciary cannot override it through secular laws.
Two structures in the constitution is not permitted due to Article 2 which states:
[The Republic of Sri Lanka is a Unitary State.]
Article 9 is invalid due to Article 2. To qualify as a Unitary structure – the fundamental value needs to be One. This in a Court of Law is the source definition of that law. In areas not covered by the law – or covered by contradictory laws – truth is the law. I explained this to a fellow Hindu lawyer who failed to turn up at Mallakam District Court yesterday – in relation to a Testamentary matter :
[Mr Yogendra, I am conscious of your devotion to Lord Shiva. The Lord Shiva in you and the Lord Shiva in me are the same. Likewise the Lord of Public Administration in each one of us. When the matter was being heard and there were strikes – I still attended Court. In the High Court of Jaffna – I did likewise even when our Attorney - Mr Manivannan stated that he would not attend. As you recall – this happened on the day Mr Parathalingam came ready to argue against our Leave to Appeal application. When Judge Elancheleyan under the influence of Mr Parathalingam warned us that our application could get dismissed due to our lawyer not being present – I stood up and stated words to the effect ‘I prepared the Leave to Appeal Application which was accepted by the Court. I am ready to argue the case myself.’ Then Judge Elancheleyan smiled and said to inform our lawyer about the next date. As you are aware it was Mr Parathaligam who was dismissed at that level – when we were granted leave. As per the rule of truth – your application ought to have been dismissed today on the same basis that your senior Mr Parathalingam sought to dismiss us.
…… I believe that when our path to contributing to just outcomes is blocked – our true contributions find alternate pathways. In this instance it is through Court Administration. Each one of us has made our true contribution to that pathway – even though the forms of our respective positions differ. Today the judge was the Lord of Court Administration who upheld our true contribution]
The source of the most reliable law in us is our own truth and the judge is our conscience. Those who continue along that path are joined and supported by Natural Universal Force. The law courts may fail us ; the government may fail us but our conscience will uphold our truth for us and by us.