A day after the murder of anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, the Maharashtra cabinet on Wednesday decided to issue an ordinance for enactment of the long-pending bill against black magic, superstition and blind faith.
Dabholkar, who was running an anti-superstition movement in Maharashtra and had even drafted a bill for the purpose in the late 1990s, was shot dead in Pune on Tuesday morning.
The contentious legislation is the first of its kind in the country — aimed at banning superstitions, inhuman rituals and black magic that have been used to exploit people in the name of religious beliefs.
The decision on the ordinance was taken by the state cabinet unanimously.
Sources said the ordinance will be promulgated by the state government after it holds a meeting with representatives of the Warkari sect which have raised some objections to the proposed law.
In its meeting on Wednesday, the state cabinet witnessed heated arguments among ministers over Dabholkar’s murder with some of the ministers questioning the delay in passing the legislation, pending for the last eight years.
The cabinet finally decided to issue an ordinance by incorporating the changes which were suggested and approve the same before the monsoon session. The ordinance is being issued since the state legislature’s session will now be held only in December.
After drafting the anti-superstition bill in the late 1990s, Dabholkar had attended every session of the state legislature since 2003, when it was first tabled in the assembly, to lobby for its passage with the state government as well as the Opposition.
The bill has had a controversial history and has gone through several drafts and 29 amendments in the last decade, the most recent changes being made earlier this year.
Outside the legislature, Dabholkar and his legislation have witnessed even more vehement opposition — from right-wing groups who claim it targets Hinduism.
While hardline organisations like the Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti and Sanatan Sanstha have openly declaimed the bill as anti-Hindu since its inception, the Warkari sect from the Bhakti movement joined their ranks two years ago, terming it an attempt to defame the Hindu religion.
The saffron combine has also steadfastly opposed the bill, and the state’s ruling alliance had slow-motioned its progress fearing a backlash from the majority community.
Anti-superstition crusaders say the bill has been misunderstood.
VIDEO: Maharashtra govt clears Dabholkar's anti-superstition bill