A law to prevent quacks, conmen or people who practice and promote human sacrifice and activities such as black magic or witchcraft to cheat people is likely to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
The new law- Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act-2011- makes the offence cognisable and non-bailable.
Under the law, a person can face imprisonment for six months to seven years along with a fine ranging from Rs 5,000-50,000, if found guilty. An officer of the rank of police inspector or above will be in charge of the investigation. Any person who obstructs the discharge of the official duties will get a jail term of three months and fine of Rs 5,000.
Sources in the social welfare department said considering the religious sentiments, the law would not apply to acts involving religious rites and rituals (in all religions), which do not adversely affect a person physically or financially. Since the word superstitious was difficult to define, it was removed from the bill.
However, a person who calls himself or herself an incarnation of another person or Holy Spirit or seeks sexual favours saying that the devotee was his wife, husband or paramour in the past birth, will also be punished.
The act will also ensure that an innocent person is not accused of bringing bad fortune to others. Parading such person naked will also be banned.
The law could not be tabled on Tuesday because the House was adjourned for the day after the Opposition protested against a police firing in Mawal near Pune.
The Assembly cleared the bill in 2005 but the Council asked to revise it. The Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party demanded that any religious references be removed from the bill. In the process, the statutory time for passing a new law in the legislature lapsed. The state, however, promised to table in the ‘mild’ version of the bill in the monsoon session.