Bill banning superstitious practices tabled

In news:

The much-delayed and hotly debated Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017, popularly known as the ‘Anti-Superstition Bill’, was tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

Highlights:

  • Among other things, it seeks to ban the controversial ‘made snana’ ritual (where devotees roll over plantain leaves that have leftover food) in public/religious places.
  • The Bill, however, does not envisage regulations for astrology or vaastu practices. It primarily aims to protect people against evil and sinister practices and combat inhuman and sinister practices propagated/performed in the name of “supernatural” or black magic. In all, 16 practices are banned under the legislation.
  • The Bill encompasses ban on human sacrifice, coercing a person to perform fire-walk at religious festivals, piercing jaw with rods, pelting stones in the name of banamati, creating panic in the minds of people by invoking ghost or mantras, claiming to perform surgery with fingers, claiming to change the sex of foetus in the womb, and the like. It also seeks to ban practices that harm women’s dignity, such as forcing them to stay in isolation during menstruation or pregnancy, and nude worship.
  • The Bill proposes appointment of police officers as vigilance officers to monitor violations of the provisions of the law and its rules.
  • Persons who obstruct the discharge of duties of the vigilance officers would be punished with an imprisonment of not less than three months and a fine up to ₹5,000 or both.

Background:

The tabling of the Bill is seen as a fulfillment of the commitment made by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to rationalists and activists who have been fighting for a ban on superstitious practices. The Bill had also seen severe opposition, with the BJP and some Hindutva groups calling it “anti-Hindu”.

The Bill was approved in the State Cabinet meeting held on September 27, 2017.

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