Belagavi: The much-delayed and debated Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017 – popularly known as the anti-superstition Bill - which seeks to ban among other practices the controversial ‘made snana’ ritual (devotees rolling over plantain leaves having food leftovers) in public/religious places, was tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
The Bill, however, does not cover regulations for astrology and vaastu practice, piercing of ears and nose of children in accordance with certain rituals, and performance of religious rituals such as ‘Keshlochan’ by the Jains. But it proposes to ban practices such as killing an animal by biting its neck (gaavu).
Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T.B. Jayachandra tabled the Bill amidst a dharna by BJP members demanding the resignation of Bengaluru Development Minister K.G. George in the wake of the CBI filing an FIR against him in the Dy. SP M.K. Ganapathy suicide case.
The tabling of the Bill is being seen as fulfilling the commitment made by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah to rationalists, writers, and activists who fought for a ban on superstitious practices.
The Bill was approved in the State Cabinet meeting held on September 27, 2017. It aimed to protect people against evil and sinister practices and to combat and eradicate inhuman, evil, sinister practices propagated/performed in the name of “supernatural” or black magic.
The Bill also encompasses ban on human sacrifice; coercing a person to perform fire-walk at religious festivals; piercing jaw with rods, etc; pelting stones in the name of banamathi, etc; creating panic in the minds of people by invoking ghosts or mantras; claiming to perform surgery with fingers, or claiming to change the sex of fetus in the womb. It also seeks to ban practices against women such as forcing them to stay in isolation; subjecting them to inhuman and humiliating practices such as parading them naked in the name of worship (batthale seve); and sexual exploitation by invoking supernatural powers.
Following protests from within the government and outside, the government had amended the intended Bill, which originally had provisions for banning astrology and animal sacrifice.
The tabling of the Bill was deferred several times following opposition from the BJP and some seers, who described the proposed Bill as “anti-Hindu”.
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 officer would be punished with imprisonment of not less than three months and a fine up to Rs. 5,000 or both.
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