The Kerala High Court in the case of Non-religious citizens & ors. v Union of India dismissed a plea seeking a ban on non-therapeutic circumcision on children carried out at the behest of parents, to declare it an illegal and a non-bailable offence and said that the plea was solely based on newspaper reports, thus, not maintainable. The order stated, “Giving due consideration to the material on record, we are also of the view that the petitioners have not substantiated their case. The Court is not a law-making body.”
The case revolves around a plea filed by a registered cultural organisation, Non-Religious Citizens stating that circumcising children before they attain the age of 18 amounts to a blatant violation of their fundamental rights and is also a human rights violation.
Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin, which is the tissue that covers the head of the penis. It is an ancient practice that has its origins in religious rites followed by adherents of many Semitic religions including Islam.
The plea stated that this leads to several health and traumatic problems. It further pointed out various international conventions, which lay down the rights of children such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nation. The petitioner contended that circumcision is not an essential religious practice and that parents cannot impose their religious beliefs on their children before the child has the capacity to provide consent. Thus, the petitioners sought direction from the court to declare this practice illegal.
The Court after considering a catena of judgements, declined all the reliefs sought by the petitioner and dismissed the plea.