Karnataka assembly passes anti-superstition bill, bans 'made-snana', spares astrology

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The Karnataka legislative assembly on Thursday passed the Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017 otherwise referred to as the Anti-superstition bill. The bill was tabled on Tuesday and passed in the assembly after minor amendments and will come up for discussion in the council on Friday.

Karnataka assembly passes anti-superstition bill, bans 'made-snana', spares astrology

The anti-superstition bill primarily bans rituals, activities, practices that cause bodily harm and subjects people to humiliation or indignity. While the bill seeks to ban the controversial 'made-snana', it has kept astrology and Vaastu out of its ambit. The bill does not restrict any rituals, religious practices, processions, celebrations, prayers performed at homes, temples, during festivals.

The bill that was tabled in the Karnataka assembly on Tuesday had classified acts, practices and rituals into 'savings' and 'schedule'. Those under 'savings' do not come under the ambit of the bill while those under 'schedule' are banned and hence punishable.

Imprisonment of not less than 1 year but extendable till 5 years is the bill's recommendation apart from registering cases under relevant IPC sections against those indulging in banned practices.

Savings: (Practices that do not fall under the ambit of the bill)

  • Any form of worship such as Pradakshina, Yatra, Parikrama at any religious places
  • Harikatha, Keerthana, Pravachana, Bhajans, teaching of ancient learning, arts, practice, and it promotion
  • Speaking about miracles by deceased saints, broadcasting them, promoting them, broadcasting, sharing or promoting literature on miracles that do not involve bodily harm.
  • Prayers, rituals, practices that do not cause bodily harm at homes, temples, pagodas, dargas, gurudwara, churches and other religious places.
  • All religious celebrations, festivals, prayers, processions, and all things related.
  • Ear and nose piercing as per tradition/culture, keshalochana according to Jain practice and the like.
  • Astrology, Vaastu consultation.
  • All traditions that the government may include in the bill at a later stage apart form those stated above.

Schedule: (Practices banned under the bill)

  • Bounty or treasure hunting in the name of dark arts, sorcery- or indulging in inhumane evil practice and black magic for the same reasons or assaulting another person, parading someone naked, restricting their everyday life, or inciting, encouraging or coercing someone to indulge in such inhumane practices
  • Claiming that someone has special powers, creating an impression that a person has supernatural powers and planting fear in the minds of people that disbelieving him will bring about misfortune. Cheating in the name of special powers.
  • Making a person drink footwear soaked water in the name of exorcism. Trying him in chains or ropes in the name of spirit possession. Assaulting a person with ropes or rods. Forcing them to breathe in chili fumes. Plucking a person's hair or suspending them from a ceiling from their hair or using a rope. Branding a person with heated items and causing pain and hurt. Forcing a person to perform sexual acts in public. Indulging in inhumane practices like forcing a person to consume humane urine or feces and the like.
  • Declaring a man to be a sorcerer, wizard/witch, demon or demon incarnate. Accusing a person of practicing black magic, dark arts, having the ability to invoke spirits and ghosts, having the ability to cause harm or loss to others or spreading diseases. Making accusations against a person to cause trouble or disrupt his normal life
  • Creating panic among people by invoking spirits, ghosts, chanting mantras, creating an impression of spirits possessing someone, stopping someone from seeking medical help and offering inhumane, evil and sorcery practices as an alternate.
  • Coaxing someone to seek inhumane practices as alternate to medical intervention and misguiding someone. Encouraging someone to indulge in inhumane evil practices for ailments by creating a fear of death or physical harm or financial loss.
  • Claiming to perform surgeries through fingers, claiming to change the sex of the fetus in the mother's womb
  • Creating an impression of possessing unnatural gifts, influencing people by claiming to be a relative, lover, spouse, paramour from previous lives and getting sexually involved with the person
  • Hanging someone from a hook, pulling a chariot by a hook pierced through a person's body, such activities, and celebrations that include such activities, encouraging someone to indulge in such acts of self-mutation, broadcasting the same or promoting it or creating an opportunity for it.
  • Hurting children in the garb of 'treatment' by throwing them on to a bed of thorns, throwing them from heights, such activities, and celebrations that include such activities, encouraging someone to indulge in such acts, promoting it or creating an opportunity for it.
  • Forcing someone to remain isolated, discriminating against women by prohibiting them from entering villages, forcing pregnant or menstruating women to remain in isolation, humiliating women by forcing them to parade naked and similar practices as part of rituals
  • Killing animals by biting their neck in public, encouraging someone to indulge in such acts or creating an opportunity
  • Acts that degrade human dignity. forcing someone to roll over leftovers of others in any religious places or encouraging such practice
  • Forcing someone to fire walk or indulge in other self- injuring acts
  • "Baibeega" practice of inserting an iron rod through the mouth
  • Stone pelting on residential houses in the name of sorcery and black magic either in the day or night
  • Preventing a snake or dog bite victim from seeking medical intervention and instead forcing them to depend on hymns, chanting, sorcery etc

Minor amendments to the bill were made after discussions in the state assembly. The same will be discussed in the council after which the Governor's assent will be sought.

The bill bans practice of black magic, sorcery, human sacrifice, activities that cause bodily harm like coercing a person to fire-walk, piercing jaw with rods, pelting stones in the name of black magic, creating panic by invoking spirits, ghosts, claiming to perform surgery with bare fingers, claiming to change the sex of foetus in the womb etc. The bill also bans inhumane practices of isolating women, forcing them to parade naked, discriminating against menstruating women, physical assault and mental harassment etc

Consent of the victim shall not be used as a defense for offenses committed. It will be cognizable and nonbailable. Punishment for offenses under this bill will vary from two years to five years imprisonment or fine or both. The bill proposes to appoint police officers as vigilance officers to monitor violations of the provisions of the law and its rules.

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