File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Cannibalism: Still Legal In India?

Cannibalism is also known as anthropophagy. It is the practice of eating the flesh or organs of another human being, whether consensual or not. What's interesting is that the eater is a human being too. It has been a long-run act. A widespread custom going back into early human history, cannibalism has been found among peoples on most continents.

For some, it is done as a ritual, and for others without it. The first known cannibal on earth was a Neanderthal whose victims' 100,000-year-old bones were discovered in Moula-Guercy, a cave in France. The latest case of cannibalism happened in Kerala in India.

The Aghori baba, associated with the post-death rituals and cremation activities, engaging in all post-mortem rituals are infamous too. It refers to the consumption of specific sections or organs as a ritual means of obtaining certain attributes of the person consumed or employing witchcraft or sorcery skills.

After so many cases even in the modern period, what's shocking is cannibalism is still not illegal in so many countries including India. Some Indian states passed acts against cannibalism but failed to implement them. If we look towards the worldview, there are 9 places including the Ganges River, India where it is still practiced and stands legal. The USA, being one of the most developed countries in the world, also lacks a law against cannibalism per se.

A question might arise in all of our minds for a second i.e., if there are any advantages of eating human flesh. Unfortunately, there are. Human flesh is very much digestible and provides one with numerous nutrients too. But does it make it justifiable? No. It is moral turpitude. Talking about the negative points, the whole concept of cannibalism is flawed. India, being the most populated country in the world does not state cannibalism as an illegal act. All of the recorded cases in India are accompanied by murder accusations carrying a life sentence.

Some provisions deploying cannibalism as an offense in India:

  1. Culpable homicide:

    A person is required to be killed by a cannibal to eat that person's flesh which may lead to the offense of culpable homicide amounting to murder or not amounting to murder. Also, if the cannibal harms the person which leads to life-threatening injury, it leads to the offense of culpable homicide.
  2. Committing hurt/grievous hurt:

    If the offense committed is gruesome, then devouring can book the cannibal for committing hurt/grievous hurt.
  3. Trespass of a place of burial:
    Section 297 of the Indian Penal Code penalizes trespass of a place of burial but does not specifically refer to cannibalism. So, if a person gets human flesh outside a place of burial, this provision may not apply at all.
  4. Outraging religious feelings:

    If the Religious feelings of a particular class are hurt because of cannibalism, then they can be charged for the same.
  5. Outraging public decency:

    cannibalism also leads to charges of outraging public decency if they are caught doing the act publicly.
  6. Murder (section 302):

    Murder means when one person is killed by another person or a group of persons who have a predetermined intention to end the life of the former. If culpable homicide leads to murder, then the cannibal is charged with the offense of murder under section 302 of the Indian penal code. In cases of serial killers or sexually motivated cannibals, the charge is always placed on murder owing to lack of law.

Additionally, these practices violate numerous clauses of international agreements like the "Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979," the "International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights," and the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948."

To combat black magic, human sacrifices, the use of magic to heal illnesses, and other activities, the Maharashtra government passed the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil, and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act in 2013.

The act has not yet been put into effect by the state legislature, nevertheless. The 2017 Karnataka Prevention and Elimination of Inhumane Evil Practices and Black Magic Act outlawed 16 actions that cause harm to others in the name of witchcraft, black magic, and superstition.

Two Most Prominent Cases of Cannibalism in India:

Nithari Case:

The Nithari case was a series of murders and rapes that occurred in Nithari, a village in the Noida district of Uttar Pradesh, India. The case involved the abduction, rape, torture, and murder of at least 19 young women and children between 2005 and 2006 by two men named Moninder Singh Pandher and Surinder Koli.

In his confession, the man who used to work as a servant in a large house in Nithari, near Delhi, says that his owner used to bring prostitutes home and that while he saw them come and go and served meals for them, he was taken over by a great craving for sex and cutting up human bodies. The man in his forties had no criminal record before committing a string of murders in 2005 and 2006, according to his admission in front of a magistrate.

A committee formed by the Ministry of Women and Child Development found The police version of why and how Koli committed the crimes is vague and unsatisfactory. The committee is perplexed as to how a person may dispose of body parts in a metropolitan area's drains so readily, frequently, and without being discovered.

The CBI failed to charge Pandher and Kohli with necrophilia because the country lacked well-defined legislation dealing with the crime. We're no better now, even after all these years. In other words, there have been numerous theories about this case. In truth, whether or not it was cannibalism is unknown, but it was a great controversy and hence remains connected with this case.

The case shocked the nation and raised serious questions about the safety of children and women in India, as well as the police's ability to investigate and solve such crimes. The accused were ultimately convicted and sentenced to death for their crimes.

Aghori Tribes:

The Aghori are a small group of Shaiva sadhus who practice asceticism. They frequently live in charnel sites, smear cremation ashes on their body, and use human corpse bones to make kapalas and jewellery. Aghoris eat what others throw away and reside amid India's cremation sites, where Lord Shiva and goddess Kali Ma are thought to dwell.

The Aghori are claimed to collect the body remains and use them for spiritual enlightenment, such as by wearing the corpses, ingesting them, or constructing alters from them. The Aghori believe that by immersing themselves in rituals that society considers forbidden or unsettling, they will achieve enlightenment. In addition to eating human flesh, Aghoris drink from human skulls and chomp the heads off live animals.

Tribal communities frequently have cultures and norms that differ from those of larger communities. India, with its diversity of traditions and rituals, is no stranger to cannibal tribes. The cultural relativism hypothesis causes a specific culture to pursue a certain practice, i.e., being specific. Cannibalism has been argued to push the boundaries of cultural relativism since it forces anthropologists to determine what is and is not acceptable human behaviour.

These are not the only cases that have been devastating and even horrific to hear. In august 2022, there was a case of the northeast which is popularly known as the 'man eaters' of the northeast.

There were a total of 3 cannibalism cases found at that time:

  • First case: One bongaigaon man was caught eating human flesh in a crematorium, he even acknowledged this heinous act.
  • Second case: some assailants were caught devouring human flesh. The victim was the owner of the Assam tea garden, Mridul Kumar Bhattacharya who was murdered along with his wife.
  • Third case: This case happened in Manipur where human flesh was not eaten raw but rather cooked.

Despite this, fresh instances of cannibalism in India have surfaced. The most well-known incident included Kamaraj, who was arrested in 2018 after killing his companion and eating parts of the body. The incident took place in the Tamil Nadu state in the south, and Kamaraj was charged with murder as well as several other IPC offenses.

Dwarkanath Ghosh was apprehended in 2019 after eating his mother alive, horrifying the nation. The incident took place in West Bengal, and the defendant was accused under Section 302 of the IPC. The latest case of cannibalism happened in October 2022 in Kerala, India popularly known as -

Kerala Human Sacrifice Case

A black cat crossing the street denotes ill luck in India, and drinking milk after eating fish might result in skin problems, among other superstitions. According to this, one of the most harmful superstitions practiced in our nation is the sacrifice of human life in the name of black magic to conceive a kid or land a job. A similar case of human sacrifice i.e. cannibalism happened in Kerala in the name of black magic.

Two women were allegedly killed by a couple in Kerala's horrifying occurrence, and their body parts were sliced up as part of black magic (61 packets of body parts were found), in the village of Elanthoor in the Pathanamthitta district. In the hope that the ceremony would bring their marriage success, these two were seduced under the pretence of an acting job and brutally murdered. In addition to being killed, the couple allegedly consumed some of their body parts.

What really happened?
The accused, Bhagaval Singh, was well-known in the area and worked as a massage therapist for Elanthoor. When 'Sridevi' contacted Bhagaval Singh and Laila on Facebook, claiming to know a black magic practitioner who might help them with their money problems, they were already having some financial difficulties.

However, "Sridevi" and the black magic practitioner were one and the same. Mohammed Shafi, accused No. 3 in this case, was a habitual offender with a previous murder charge against him. Shafi persuaded Singh to carry out several actions while also soliciting money in exchange for solving all of his problems and ensuring prosperity.

As a result, he advised offering a human sacrifice, and Singh once more believed the lies.

According to City Police Commissioner C H Nagaraju, police are gathering proof in this regard. There is information that the defendants ate body parts after killing the victims, the man claimed. That is being looked into. We must perform scientific tests, such as DNA analysis. Then, three persons, Muhammad Shafi (52), Bhagaval Singh (68), and his wife Laila (59) were arrested for the murder of 2 women i.e, Padmam (52), and Rosily Varghese (50).

The three accused were sent into judicial custody for 14 days by an Ernakulam first-class magistrate court. They were accused of criminal conspiracy, kidnapping, killing, and destroying evidence.

Talking about our neighbouring country, China, have some bizarre laws for cannibalism.

Sarcastically said, for health reasons, Cannibalism in the country is acceptable. Only, you shouldn't eat your neighbour's wife!

China has this law with loose ends. It states that cannibalism is acceptable but you cannot eat someone else's wife as your meal. But the doubt that arises in one's mind is if eating someone else's daughter/son/parents is allowed. The law does not answer this question!

Cannibalism still existed in many parts of the world such as Liberia (West Africa), the Democratic Republic of Congo, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, India, Cambodia, Miami Florida, Nuku Hiva of French Polynesia, and Rotenburg, Germany. Even in the Modern Era, there are many instances of Cannibalism throughout the world which are both alarming and concerning for society.

Most recent examples include the 1820 sinking of the Essex, the Donner Party in 1846 and 1847, and the 1972 crash of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571. Several serial killers, including Albert Fish, Boone Helm, Andrei Chikatilo, and Jeffrey Dahmer, have been known to devour their victims after killing them. Other people, such as artist Rick Gibson and writer William Seabrook, have devoured human flesh legally out of curiosity or to draw attention to themselves.

There are not enough laws against cannibalism in India and many more countries but that does not mean there could not be. Opinions vary from one governor, country, person, and religion to another regarding what laws should be implemented against cannibalism and what not. But Cannibalism being such a heinous crime should at least not stand legal in any country.

Separate laws should be made against cannibalism rather than merging it with the provision of culpable homicide and murder. Cannibalism is often ignored while making separate laws for every crime for example- section 302 of IPC- punishment for murder but India, being a democratic country, should formulate specific rules and regulations against cannibalism without any further delay.

More awareness should be spread about this offense and its punishments via social media, campaigns, news media, etc. Harmful superstitions which lead to cannibalism in the name of human sacrifice should be banned too.

Morally, cannibalism cannot be stated right in any way. In the early period, cannibalism used to be practiced in the name of religion but time has changed now. The thinking of people is not how it used to be. People are more scientific and intellectual in the modern period, they are less religious compared to earlier.

India has to create legislation to deal with violations of the dead, whether it be necrophilia, exhuming corpses, or even desecrating the body for the dead body's flesh, since there have been an increasing number of occurrences of necrophilia since 2015, coupled with relation to the Nithari case.

Cannibalism has not yet been made a crime anywhere, not even in India. The issue of making the same illegal is still being discussed. Considering punishing the Aghori tribe would likely draw negative attention because they already face no punishment. Things aggravated in 2022 after two cannibalism cases that took place in the northeast and Kerala.

Where human morality and the freedom to appreciate different cultures and religions should diverge is a crucial issue to think about.

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly