Karnataka is all set to be the second state in the country to have a law against superstitious beliefs and practices after Maharashtra. If both houses of the Karnataka legislature consent, the Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017 will come into effect immediately. Here is what the bill would mean to the common man.
While the draft bill- approved by the Karnataka cabinet on Wednesday- is open to changes while discussion in the assembly and the council, if it is accepted in its current form, many inhumane practices will become punishable, nonbailable offenses. The next time you see an inhumane practice being forced on any individual, know that a law will soon be around to punish the perpetrator. The law is expected to help prevent people, especially from economically backward sections, from becoming victims of fraud in the name of superstition.
Under the draft bill, no person will be allowed to:
- Roll over the leaves of leftovers of another person (a practice called Made-snana in coastal Karnataka where people from backward communities roll over the leaves of leftovers by Brahmins)
- Coerce anyone to fire-walk, pierce rods through the mouth, pull chariots with hooks pierced through the back
- Pelting stones in the name of black magic
- Denying medical help to a person who has suffered venomous bite to offer 'magical cures' instead
- Parading anyone naked in the name of ritual
- Throwing children down from places (on to bed of thorns in some practices)
- Promote the idea of ghosts, possession, exorcism, black magic, sinister practices
- Claiming miracles, surgeries with bare hands, treating people with black magic, treasure hunt
- Bite the neck of animals in the name of possessions or ritual
- Isolate women, assault with rope, rods, sticks, cloth, whip to cause injury or pain.
- Force persons to perform sexual acts in public, consume human or animal excreta or any practice that is inhumane.
- Promote ideas of self-mutilation, isolating menstruating or pregnant women etc
The bill also clarifies that religious rituals will not be banned as much as that astrology and Vaastu will not be deemed illegal. In the current form, no person will be stopped from following rituals of :
- Bhajans, prayers, yatras in religious places
- Singing of harikatha and the likes, learning of ancient teachings and arts
- Promoting tales of deceased saints including miracles they performed and circulation of literature on them given that it does not promote physical injury
- Festivals, processions, religious rituals at places of worship or homes or establishments
- Piercing of ears and nose as per tradition and practice
- No ban on Vaastu and astrology
According to the draft bill, any person convicted of offenses under the law will be punished with imprisonment nor less than one year extended to seven years with a fine of Rs 5,000 - Rs 50,000.
The offenses will be read with other relevant sections of the IPC in the case of physical harm including the death of the victim. The same will apply in the case of a victim committing suicide after being forced to undergo an inhumane practice.
"Consent of the victim shall not be a defense under this section. The offence shall be cognizable and nonbailable," the draft reads.