• Kerala Law Reforms Commission Drafts Bill Against Superstition and Sorcery

    Newsclick Report

    July 8, 2019

    Kerala is soon going to form a legislation against superstition and practices like sorcery and exorcism. State Law Reforms Commission has drafted a bill warranting strict punishments against those who are taking part in such practices putting the lives of people in danger.

    The Bill, Kerala Exploitation by Superstition (Prevention) Act, was drafted as per the recommendation of the state government. Earlier, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had informed the state Legislative Assembly that the government is all set to introduce the law against superstition, black magic etc.

    Though the draft bill was prepared a couple of years ago, it had not been passed as a law. But the recent incidents of black magic practices and deaths due to superstition have led to the need of such a legislation. The death of four members of a family at Kambakakkanam near Thodupuzha in Idukki district in August last year under mysterious circumstances had brought into sharp focus the need of such an act in the state. Such incidents have occurred in the state in the near past at regular intervals. In another incident, the case of a 27-year-old woman who was starved to death in Kollam district during March 2019 had also hinted towards the existing practice of occult and superstitious beliefs.

    In 2014 itself, Kerala Shastra Sahitya Parishad (KSSP), the Kerala chapter of People’s Science Movement, had presented a draft titled Superstitious and Evil Practices (Prevention and Eradication) Bill to then CM Oommen Chandy. The draft had followed the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013, which had originally been drafted by the rationalist Narendra Dhabolkar in 2003.

    After years of campaign and struggles by many rationalists in the state, the bill was enacted in December 2013, shortly after the murder of Dhabolkar by the right-wing forces in August 2013. After Maharashtra, Karnataka had formed an anti-superstition law. The much delayed and debated Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017, was cleared by the state legislature in September 2017.

    The anti-superstition bill of Karnataka had put an end, to a certain extent, to various inhuman practices especially Made Made Snana– commonly known as Made Snana- which is the practice of devotees rolling over banana leaves on which food had been served earlier to the brahmins in a segregated part of the temple.

    The Legislate Assembly of Assam had also passed a bill in August 2015 – Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill. Branding people, especially women, as witch and killing them was very rampant till very recently in the state. However, the bill was converted to an Act only in July 2018.

    Under the proposed legislation in Kerala, various inhuman activities which are being practised in the name of curbing illness, expelling ghosts, getting money and treasure etc. will be punishable. The draft bill proposes a fine of up to Rs 50,000 and imprisonment of seven years for the people who are violating the law by propagating superstitious practices. The list of punishable practices includes

    • Practising sorcery and exorcism, doing any inhuman, evil act and black magic in search of precious things and disrupting the normal life of a person saying supernatural forces.

    • In the name of expelling the ghost, assaulting by tying a person with rope or chain, beating by stick or whip, fixing him with rope or by hair or plucking his hair, causing pain by way of touching heated object to organs or a body of a person, forcing a person to perform a sexual act in the open, practising inhuman acts, putting urine or human excreta forcibly in the mouth of a person or practising any such acts.

    • To create an impression by declaring that a power not apprehensible by senses has influenced one’s body or that a person has possessed such power and thereby create fear in the mind of others or to threaten others of evil consequences for not following the advice of such person or deceive, defraud and deter him.

    • Earning money; and to deceive, defraud and terrorise people by propagation and circulation of so-called miracles.

    • With a view to receive blessings of supernatural power, to follow the inhuman, evil and aghori practices which cause danger to life or grievous hurt, to instigate, encourage or compel others to follow such practices.

    • Preventing women from entering villages, forcefully abandoning the women in an isolated place in the name of menstruation or delivery and forcing the women to be nude in the name of beliefs.

    • By making the persons believe that a particular person practices black magic or brings under the influence of ghost or diminishes the milking capacity of a cattle by mantra-tantra or similarly accusing a particular person that he brings misfortune to others, or is a cause for spread of diseases and thereby making the living of such person miserable, troublesome or difficult to declare a person as saitan or incarnation of saitan.

    • Creating panic among the public in general, by way of invoking ghost or mantras or threat to invoke ghost, creating an impression that there is ghostly or wrath of power not apprehensible by senses causing physical injuries and preventing a person from taking medical treatment and instead diverting him to practice inhuman, evil and aghori acts or causing financial harm by practising or tend to practice black magic or inhuman act.

    • Prohibiting and preventing a person from taking medical treatment in case of dog, snake or scorpion bite and instead giving him treatment like mantra tantra, gande dora (“sacred” thread) or such other things.


       

    First published in Newsclick.

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