LAHORE - The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has advised Punjab Assembly to further amend the Animal Slaughter Control Act to make a clear distinction between ‘Halal’ and ‘Haram’ animals after it found one of its provisions as against the Islamic injunctions.

Accordingly, the Punjab Government has decided to make an amendment in the law as directed by the CII which is mandated under Article 230(1) (a) of the constitution to review any legislation passed by any legislature of the country to see whether a law is or is not repugnant to the injunctions of Islam.

Article 227(1) of the Constitution postulates that no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah.

A new amendment bill to amend this law has been laid in the Provincial Assembly which is likely to be passed during the current session. The CII has recommended that word ‘Halal’ may be added in the definition of the word ‘animal’ in section 2(a) of the Punjab Animals Slaughter Control Act, 2012. The CII has also ruled that apart from this discrepancy there was nothing against Shariah in the Act.

Former Punjab Governor Sardar Latif Khosa had refused to sign the Animal Slaughter Act last year, pleading that it was not in conformity with some other laws already in force and also did not differentiate between ‘Halal’ and ‘Haram’ animals. He had then sent it back to the Assembly for reconsideration.

But despite strong objections by the opposition and the message of the governor, Punjab Government managed to again pass this law in the Provincial Assembly, declaring the largest flightless exotic bird, ostrich, as an animal and allowing slaughter of all domestic animals, without differentiating between ‘Halal’ and ‘Haram’ animals.

Since the Governor did not assent to the Bill within the stipulated period of ten days, the same was deemed to have been assented to in terms of clause (3) of Article 116 of the Constitution and the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab notified the same on July 30..2012. But the matter did not end here. Then Punjab governor sent a reference to the Chairman, Council of Islamic Ideology seeking Council’s ruling on Punjab Assembly’s legislation.

“I request you to kindly lay this matter before the Council of Islamic Ideology for an advice on the issue as to whether amendments made through the Punjab Animals Slaughter Control (Amendment) Act 2012, thereby allowing slaughtering of any animal without differentiating in ‘Halal’ or ‘Haram’ are repugnant to the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah or otherwise”, said concluding paragraph of governor’s reference sent to the CII chairman.

The governor, in his letter, had also noted that after amendment in the definition of ‘animal’ through the Punjab Animals Slaughter Control (Amendment) Act 2012, the slaughter of ‘Haram’ animal even on commercial basis has ceased to be an illegality within the territories of the Punjab province.

It merits mentioning here that Punjab Animals Slaughter Control Act, 2012 has virtually become a hard nut to crack for the Punjab Government ever since its passage by the Assembly last year. The objection on the said law came from the governor and later from the opposition parties which raised objections over declaring of Ostrich an animal for slaughtering purposes in violation of existing rules and making slaughter of all animals legal without addressing the issue of ‘Halal or ‘Haram’

Moreover, the definition clause of the Act in its present form remains silent on denomination of ‘domesticated animals in captivity’. The domestication is neither defined under the Punjab Animals Slaughter Control Act, 1963, nor under the Punjab Wildlife (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Management) Act, 1974. Consequently, the room for manipulation can be exploited to interpolate domestication of protected animals and species. However, after passage of the proposed amendment, this anomaly would be rectified.