Should practicing astrology and related subjects like vastu, palmistry, feng shui, tarot reading etc be banned?
The Bombay High Court is likely to answer this following a public interest litigation filed by Janhit Manch, a non-governmental organisation, seeking ban on the “misleading” practices.
The court directed the Centre and state government to reply to the petition within three weeks. It also asked them to furnish statistics showing implementation of the Drugs and Magic Practices Act, 1954, which provides for punishment for practicing “magic practices”.
Bhagwanji Rahiyani of the NGO said several well-known people are practicing various forms of astrology claiming cure for almost everything — right from swine flu to heart diseases.
He narrated his experience with Bramharshi Shivkumar Swamiji, who has a centre in Andheri. He said he had approached the centre in December 2009 with two activists. They were charged Rs 2,400 per head just for an appointment. He said he later attended a seminar of 25 astrologers who predicted the movement of the share market. “I challenged them to put their market predictions on paper, to verify later. Nobody accepted,” he said.
Centre’s lawyer Advait Sethna said the University Grants Commission has admitted astrology was a science and such subjects are incorporated in syllabi of many universities.
He argued that astrology could not be covered under definition of "magic practices" as stipulated under the Drugs and Magic Practices Act and therefore there could be no blanket ban on practicing the same.
The NGO has named seven astrologers, including Bejan Daruwala, as respondents to the petition.