A scrutiny of the tenets in the new anti-superstition legislation shows that there is no direct stricture on ‘ god men’, many who are also politically influential, from increasing their fold or holding workshops, meetings, lectures or discourses.
However, this law will indirectly keep a check on nefarious activities and could open the floodgates for complaints by disenchanted devotees against these former gurus.
“Under this law, complaints like in the case of Asaram Bapu can straight away attract 5 years of imprisonment. The law, in its schedule, considers seeking sexual favours or even consensual sex carried out under the pretext of being a holy spirit, or having been a paramour in past birth or promising fertility as an offence,’’ said Shyam Manav, of the Andha Shraddha Nirmulan Samiti.
He added that there is no direct ban on handing out talismans, stones, mantras for well-being by god men but if these are sold under the pretext of curing serious ailments, a criminal complaint can be made.
“Basically, this law will create a system to deal with such crimes. At one level, the police will be trained to identify and to recognise such activities as crimes and at another level, the social justice department will take up awareness drives against such activities in a big way,” added Manav.
The Samiti is sitting quiet till the Ganesh festivities get over and the first batch of vigilance officers of the level of police inspectors will start filing complaints.
“The law is primarily aimed at curbing exploitation in the name of supernatural powers, evil practices. It spells out what can be considered an offence such as human sacrifices, exorcism of ghosts, sexual exploitation of women or physical tortures such as assaulting by rope, whipping, forcing,” said a senior official.
It also makes performance of miracles by a person to earn money or defraud others as an offence.