Afte much delay and opposition the Karnataka cabinet finally approved the controversial anti-superstition bill on Wednesday. The bill will be tabled in the next assembly session and discussions will be held to include or remove proposals made in the draft. Rationalists have however, called the bill 'diluted'.
The cabinet unanimously approved the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017, otherwise called the anti-superstition bill. The draft bill, a copy of which is with OneIndia, states that all practices mentioned in the bill are open to discussion. Every clause will be taken up for discussion to ensure that the bill has the support of both houses.
What is banned under the draft bill?
- Performing any inhumane act, evil practices and black magic in search of treasure, bounty
- Tantric acts including physical and sexual assault
- Parading anyone naked
- Ostracising anyone in the name of ritual and encouraging inhumane acts
- Creating impression of 'possession' and exorcism
- Assaulting people under the garb of exorcism
- Spreading misinformation and creating panic in the garb of ghosts, black magic
- Making claims of healing power
- Propagating practices that involve self-mutilation
- Coercing people to perform firewalking
These are some of the practices banned under the draft bill. The same is open for discussion.
What is not banned under the draft bill?
- Any form of worship such as pradakshine, yatra, parikrama at any religious places
- Harikatha, keerthana, pravachana, bhajans, teaching of ancient learning, arts, practice, and propagation
- Speaking about miracles by deceased saints and literature on them
- Performing prayers, upasana religious rituals at places of worship or homes
- Religious celebrations, festivals, processions
- Piercing of ears and nose, shaving of head (Jainism's keshalochana)
- Astrology and Vaastu
Rationalists are, however, unconvinced and believe that the bill has been diluted and is not serving the purpose. "The bill is already diluted and does not serve the purpose of curbing superstitious practices. Education and not legislation can stop such practices. Unless awareness is created, people won't stop. Political parties have already been successful in delaying the bill and now it is to be seen what final shape it will take. We will urge for a better bill," said Prof Narendra Nayak, a rationalist who was consulted by the Karnataka government for the bill.
Under the draft bill, 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.