The bill to eradicate black magic (witchcraft) and inhuman religious practices will soon see the light of the day.
The state cabinet approved a diluted version of the draft of the bill on Friday and it will table the same for the state legislature’s approval in the ongoing budget session.
The new bill proposes a rigorous jail term of six months to seven years and a fine of up to Rs 50,000.
A senior minister said the new draft was finalised after discussing it with the saffron parties and the proponents of the bill. “We have honoured objections and suggestions by both the sides,” he said.
The bill will not have the word superstition neither it will talk of vaidu (medical practitioners who don’t have formal education in medicine).
The word bhondu baba (fake baba) will replace vaidu. It will not have a section that discusses traditions followed generally because of lack of (scientific) knowledge. The number of penal sections has also been reduced to 13 from the earlier 30.
As per the amended draft bill, the complainant will have to prove evil practice and harm, physical or financial, and help investigating agencies in making a strong case. A police officer of the rank of inspector and above will be authorised to investigate the complaints. Even a third party can lodge a complaint.
“It’s a smaller yet very effective bill. It stresses on eradicating inhuman religious practices,” said the minister requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak on the matter.
The bill was first approved by the assembly in December 2005, but withheld later by the council. The validity of the bill lapsed and since many parties asked for amending it, the government involved all of them in the process.
The two senior leaders of Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti, Shyam Manav and Dr Narendra Dabholkar, and justice (retired) Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari helped draft the bill.