Seventeen years after being drafted by social activist Narendra Dabholkar who was murdered in Pune four months ago, the Maharashtra assembly passed the anti-superstition bill on Friday, albeit with two major amendments proposed by the BJP that include adding a ‘saving clause’ which excludes at least seven religious rituals and practices from its purview.
These amendments will dilute the law, even though the contents of the ordinance, promulgated in the aftermath of the crusader’s shooting on August 20, have not been tinkered with.
Titled Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013, the bill was tabled in the assembly by social justice minister Shivajirao Moghe on Wednesday, and passed by voice vote after a two-day discussion.
It will be sent for approval to the legislative council, where it was stuck in 2005 due to opposition from the saffron parties who had termed it anti-Hindu.
The bill is aimed at curbing superstitions that cause financial loss and physical injury. If found guilty, the offender would be liable to punishment ranging from six months to seven years and penalty between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 50,000.
Among the Opposition-forced amendments is dropping the provision t hat any person could lodge a complaint. Now, only the victims or their kin can approach the police to register offences.