Of late there have been some cases in which activists campaigning against superstitions in general have been silenced by murder or other types of physical assault. Such type of cases have incidentally happened in South India, specially Karnataka. Apart from this, some social customs like jalikattu have recently been subject of strident debate often leading to judicial intervention. Incidents of black magic, witchcraft and inflicting physical pain to oneself etc. regularly surface in different parts of the country.
What if Black Magic Bill 2017 is passed?
Public opinion built up in this context overly has been in favour of enacting a law against evil practices and superstitions. In the light of such demand the Karnataka Government has given consent to a bill in this regard, namely, Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017. Now this Bill will be placed in State Assembly for nod. If passed, this Bill is expected to end different inhuman practices such as witchcraft, black magic and any act in the name of religious practice causing injury to humans and animals. The speciality of this Bill is that it does not only mention the practices which are to be banned but also specifies ones which have been kept out of the purview of such ban.
Special Features of Anti-Superstition Bill
From the perusal of the practices which the Bill does not disturb, it would be clear that all types of religious acts which are not physically harmful have been allowed. A special feature of the Bill is that it does not ban vaastu shastra and astrology, something that will not go well with hard-core rationalists. The Bill is also soft on miracles as the same do not involve any kind of physical harm.
All types of prayers, upaasana and rituals held at home or in religious places have been kept beyond proscription. Piercing of ears and nose of children as per rituals and kesha lunchan performed by Jains have been permitted under the Bill.
Proposals of the Bill
The Karnataka Anti-Superstition Bill proposes ban on the following practices : –
- Rolling over left-over food
- Piercing one’s jaw or tongue
- Pelting stones on residential houses under mata-mantra
- Preventing a person suffering from poisonous animal’s bite from proper treatment and indulging instead in treatment by mantra etc.
- Killing of an animal by biting its neck (gaavu)
- Black magic
- Evil acts in the name of searching precious things
- Assaulting any person, parading him naked or putting a ban on his daily activities
- Declaring that a person is possessed by a spirit
- Threatening people of evil consequences if they do not heed to one’s advice.
- Claiming to expel a ghost from a person’s body by chaining him, beating him with stick, whipping him, making him drink water soaked with footwear, causing pain by putting heated object on the person, forcing a person to perform sexual act in the open, forcibly injecting urine or human excreta into the mouth of the “suffering” person
- Creating panic in the public by “invoking” of spirits
- Practicing aghory acts
- Claiming to perform surgery by fingers
- Claiming to have the power of changing the sex of foetus
- Self-inflicting injuries such as hanging from a hook inserted in the body or pulling a chariot with such hook
- Evil practices like throwing the children on thorns, making them fall from heights and branding them with heated objects
- Subjecting women to inhuman and humiliating practices such as out-casting them from the village or parading them naked in the name of religious ritual
Ethics Question for UPSC from the above Article:
Do you think that the Government will be able to implement the provisions of the Bill in case of all religions uniformly?