Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Act

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Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013
Territorial extent Maharashtra
Enacted by Legislative Assembly
Date passed 13 December 2013
Enacted by Legislative Council
Date passed 18 December 2013
Legislative history
Bill introduced in the Legislative Assembly Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2013
Bill published on 11 December 2013
Introduced by Shivajirao Moghe
Related legislation
Maharashtra Ordinance No. XIV of 2013
Status: In force

The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013 is a criminal law act for the state of Maharashtra, India, originally drafted by anti-superstition activist and the founder of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS), Narendra Dabholkar (1945-2013) in 2003.[1] The act criminalises practices related to black magic, human sacrifices, use of magic remedies to cure ailments and other such acts which exploit people's superstitions.[2]

The bill was initially promulgated on 24 August 2013, and was formally introduced in the winter session of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in Nagpur in December 2013.[2]

Overview[edit]

The current bill has 12 clauses which criminalise only the following acts:[3]

  • Assault, forced ingestion of urine or stool, forced sexual acts, branding etc. on the pretext of exorcising ghosts from an allegedly possessed person.
  • Claiming to make miracles and defrauding or terrorising people.
  • Carrying out or encouraging acts which endanger life or cause grievous injury in order to gain supernatural blessing.
  • Carrying out or encouraging inhuman acts or human sacrifice in quest of some bounty or reward.
  • Creating the impression that a person has supernatural powers and compelling people to follow his/her orders.
  • Accusing a person of practising black magic or being an incarnation of saitan, blaming him/her of causing diseases or misfortune, and harassing the person.
  • Accusing a person of practising black magic, parading him/her naked and hindering the person's activities.
  • Claiming to invoke ghosts, creating the impression of possession, preventing the person from seeking medical treatment, and compelling him/her to inhuman acts.
  • Preventing a person from seeking medical advice in case of dog, snake, or scorpion bite, and compelling him/her to take magic remedies.
  • Claiming to perform surgery by fingers (psychic surgery) and claiming to change the sex of an unborn foetus.
  • Claiming to be related to a person from a previous incarnation and coaxing them to sexual acts, and claiming to have supernatural power to cure an impotent woman and having sexual relation with the woman.
  • Claiming a mentally challenged person to be having supernatural powers and using such a person for personal gain.

Although the human sacrifice is already considered murder in India, encouraging human sacrifice has been criminalised in this law.[3] Each infraction carries a minimum sentence of six months and a maximum sentence of seven years, including a fine ranging from 5,000 to 50,000. The offences are non-bailable and cognisable.[4]

The law directs the appointment and training of vigilance officers, to investigate and report these crimes to the local police station. The ranks of these officers are to be greater than the rank of a police inspector.[5][6][7]

History[edit]

The original bill of 2003 was drafted by Narendra Dabholkar.[1] In July 2003, the draft was approved by the state government.[8] The bill was sent for ratification to the Union government by Chief Minister Sushilkumar Shinde in August 2003.[9] However, it was criticised for having poor definitions of terms like superstition, black magic, spells, sorcery etc.[1] The bill was not presented in the winter session of the legislature.[8]

The bill was revised and redrafted by rationalist Shyam Manav. This draft was presented as Maharashtra Eradication of Black Magic and Evil and Aghori Practices Bill, 2005.[1]

The bill was introduced for the first time in the Legislative Assembly in the winter session of 2005.[10] The bill, was adopted by the Assembly on 16 December 2006, the last day of the session. The ruling Congress government faced criticism from the lack of debate from the opposition BJP and Shiv Sena.[11]

The Art of Living Foundation and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti protested against the bill, including at a demonstration in Pune on 25 February 2006. They expressed concern that bill gave too much power to police, allowing them to search, seize and arrest on mere suspicion. The spokesperson for Janajagruti Samiti, Ramesh Shinde, said that the bill was redundant, violated religious freedom and did not acknowledge divine power. I. A. Khan, the caretaker of the Haji Malang Dargah, agreed and added that the bill was influenced by "foreign ideas".[12] The bill was not presented in 2006 monsoon session. A Congress MLA on the condition of anonymity acknowledged that they didn't want to upset their constituencies ahead of the elections.[13]

In 2007, instead of being sent to the second house of the legislature, the Legislative Council, it was forwarded to an investigative committee.[14]

In July 2008, MANS volunteers staged a protest in Mumbai to draw attention to the bill, where the protesters slapped themselves. They claimed that it was to remind themselves that, they had elected the wrong representatives who were not interested in the people's welfare.[15]

On 8 November 2010, Narhari Maharaj Chaudhari, the secretary of Maharashtra State Warkari Mahamandal representing the Warkaris, criticised the bill in a press conference stating that it has no clear definition of mental and physical torture. He also stated that it could be used to criminalise every Hindu ritual. He claimed the bill to be redundant as human sacrifice already comes under Indian Penal Code. He defended the Wakari ritual of wari and called for the bill to be scrapped.[16]

On 5 April 2011, Dabholkar, talking at a press conference, criticised television programmes promoting superstitions and called for the bill to be passed. A rally was held at Azad Maidan on 7 April to awareness about the bill.[17] On 7 April 2011, Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar stated that the bill will be introduced in the budget session while responding to MLA Chainsukh Sancheti's queries about child sacrifices. Pawar clarified that the bill will not affect Wakari rituals or any other religious rites.[18]

On 7 July 2011, MANS secretary Milind Deshmukh and Dabholkar stated that an anti-superstition bill had been promised by the government since 7 July 1995 but never passed. They started a telegram-sending campaign to draw attention to the issues and also urged local leaders to send telegrams to the Chief Minister.[19]

On 20 August 2013, Narendra Dabholkar, the architect and lead campaigner behind the bill, was shot dead, while he was out on a walk. His death triggered protests and demands for the bill to be passed were made.[20]

On 21 August 2013, the Maharashtra government approved the bill as an ordinance. On 24 August 2013, K. Sankaranarayanan, the Governor of Maharashtra signed the ordinance. The ordinance will remain in effect until December 2013, when it will be tabled at the winter session of the state legislature.[2] As of August 2013, the bill has been tabled thrice in the Legislative Assembly and had failed to pass each times, and has undergone 29 amendments.[21]

On 4 September 2013, the ordinance was used for the first time to arrest two individuals in the Nanded district, who had advertised miracles cures for AIDS, cancer and diabetes in a newspaper. Members of MANS helped the police understand which clause would be applicable.[22] On 8 September 2013, a man claiming to be an avatar of Krishna was arrested in Kandivali under this ordinance. He was also charged under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act for molestation.[23]

The bill to enact the law was titled the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Bill 2013, also known as the Anti-Superstition Bill, Black Magic Bill, Anti-Jaadu Tona Bill or Jadu Tona Andhshradha Virodhi Bill.[24] [25] It was introduced in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly on 11 December 2013 by State Social Justice minister Shivajirao Moghe.[26] The bill was passed by the Legislative Assembly on 13 December[27][28] and by the Legislative Council on 18 December 2013.[29][30]

Criticism and support[edit]

The bill has been criticised for being anti-Hindu and anti-religion.[1][31]

Dabholkar had responded to the criticism of the bill being anti-religious by stating that the bill does not mention god or religion, and that only targets fraudulent practices.[31]

Shyam Manav has given his assurance that the Wakari sect will not find the bill objectionable. Manav has further clarified the law does not prohibits a person from performing a miracle. However, it is a crime if a person claims to perform a miracle and cheats someone.[32]

Dalbholkar's daughter, Mukta, and other activists are also campaigning for a national-wide anti-superstition law.[33][34]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Bold but fuzzy". Frontline (magazine). 12 August 2006. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c "The anti-black magic and superstition ordinance has been promulgated in Maharashtra". DNA India. 24 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "What the anti-superstition bill is about". DNA India. 26 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "Anti-Superstition Ordinance Brought". Daily Pioneer. 28 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  5. ^ "Govt to back anti-superstition bill: Prithviraj Chavan". The Times of India. 12 July 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "Government to train senior police inspectors to implement act". The Times of India. 9 September 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "Maharashtra's delayed move on black magic". The Indian Express. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Anti-superstition bill gathers dust". Tehelka. 17 July 2004. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "Check spiritual frauds, exhorts social activist". The Times of India. 5 August 2003. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "Anti-superstition Bill introduced". The Hindu. 15 December 2005. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  11. ^ "Bill against superstition adopted". The Times of India. 17 December 2005. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  12. ^ "Religious groups fear 'black magic' of police". DNA India. 26 February 2006. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "Mahim brings faith bill to fore". DNA India. 20 August 2006. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "Anti-superstition bill continues to attract sceptics". DNA India. 5 May 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  15. ^ "Activists take punishment to open eyes". Gulf News. 18 July 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  16. ^ "Scrap anti-superstition bill". The Indian Express. 9 November 2010. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  17. ^ "Rally to press for anti-superstition bill". The Times of India. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  18. ^ "Anti-superstition Bill to be ready in this session: Ajit". The Times of India. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  19. ^ "Putting pressure: Cable campaign for anti-superstition bill". DNA India. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  20. ^ "Rationalist Dabholkar shot dead". The Hindu. 20 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  21. ^ "Maharashtra to issue anti-superstition ordinance". The Hindu. 22 September 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  22. ^ "Anti-superstition law draws first blood". The Hindu. 5 September 2005. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  23. ^ "'Lord Krishna' held under anti-superstition law". DNA India. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  24. ^ "Guv signs anti-superstition and black magic ordinance". Sakal Times. 25 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  25. ^ "CM failed to discuss Anti-Jaadu Tona Bill". DNA India. 6 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  26. ^ Anti-Superstition bill introduced in Maharashtra Assembly - The Hindu
  27. ^ Anti-superstition bill clears first hurdle - Hindustan Times
  28. ^ Anti-superstition Bill passed by Maharashtra Assembly - Indian Express
  29. ^ Maharashtra Legislative Council Passes Black Magic Bill - The New Indian Express
  30. ^ http://www.indlawnews.com/Newsdisplay.aspx?f4ec9346-b68c-4aa9-96be-58eaa4f0b24f
  31. ^ a b "Narendra Dabholkar: India's Maharashtra state bans black magic after killing". BBC News. 21 August 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  32. ^ "Anti-superstition law drafted in such a way that Warkaris will not oppose it: Shyam Manav". DNA India. 27 September 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  33. ^ "Dabholkar aides meet Rahul, Pawar for central anti-superstition law". First Post (India). 18 September 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013. 
  34. ^ "National anti-black magic bill required: Dabholkar’s daughter". The Hindu. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.