Last Updated: 16-Nov-2013 | Shortlink: http://wp.me/pUeNx-cr
Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Ordinance (Maharashtra Ordinance XIV of 2013)
Published in the Maharashtra Ordinary Gazette on 26-August-2013.
What is the status of this law? When did this law come into effect?
The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices Bill, 2011 (L. A. Bill No. XLI of 2011), was introduced in the Legislative Assembly, in the Monsoon Session of the State Legislature, 2011, on the 10th August 2011. This law came into effect on 26-Aug-2013 upon publication into the Official Gazette of Maharashtra.
Why should we have a new law? Were the existing Criminal Laws not enough?
Not really. Religion has such an elevated status in India and in most parts of the world, that even clearly illegal, unethical or immoral acts done in the name of religion were ignored or even encouraged. (Eg: Noise Pollution, Air Pollution, Water Pollution, Cruelty to Animals etc. etc.)
Till date, newspapers contain numerous ads, which assure a cure for anything and everything, through Black Magic and similar practices. Trains are filled with advertisements on Black Magic Healers who can fix anything, from a broken marriage to a troublesome employee, to a film star or a politicians career.
The laws of the country are so fragile, that they cannot always stand up to acts done in the name of religion. To make people think, a strong law needs to be implemented.
While all the penalties exist, the police and other authorities are too cautious to tread on the “religious” line, lest they be targeted for “hurting religious sentiments”.
What are the penalties under this law?
- The Offences punishable under this Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable.
- imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to seven years and
- a fine which shall not be less than five thousand rupees but which may extend to fifty thousand rupees
In addition to the above penalties, when any person is finally convicted of any offence punishable under this Ordinance, the Court may cause the name and place of residence of such person to be published by the police in the local newspaper where the offence had taken place, together with the fact that such offender had been convicted of the offence under this Ordinance and such other particulars as the Court may deem fit and appropriate, to be allowed to be published.
What does Aghori mean?
The term Aghori is not defined in this Ordinance. Hence, the common contemporary meaning is to be followed. As per Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aghori) Aghoris are Ascetic Sadhus who perform some extreme rituals which are no longer morally accepted in modern society. Aghori practices are followed by many persons in India.
The ordinance refers to acts done under the guise of Aghori Traditions.
I have heard that this law seems to be targeted against Hindus. Will it impact only Hinduism?
Ofcourse not. This rumour is being spread by persons with ulterior motives in all these practices. These practices are big money spinners and prevention of these practices will stop the flow of money to these con men.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” -Upton Sinclair
Blind Faith and superstition is promoted in the name of almost every religion. Exorcism, fake remedies, charms, bracelets etc. have been practiced in the name of every God and every religion.
The faithful of all and any religion resort to these options as a last resort, making them most vulnerable and agreeable to do anything to achieve their wish. The victims do not look at religion or faith when being subject to these con men/con women. The con men maybe of any religion, social background or philosophy, but will still attract people from all faiths, beliefs and religions.
In the beginning it was said that this Law would apply to all the religions. Why was this sentence removed?
Application of this Act to all religions, would not necessarily cover the actions done under the general guise of black magic and jaadu tona, without a religious banner. By excluding “all religions” the Act applies universally to all acts done in the name of religion or even excluding the name of a particular religion / God / Belief System. This includes practices done by Atheists (not that atheists practice anything) / Devil Worshippers etc.
Many people are saying that the second point in the Schedule is unclear?
(2) Display of so-called miracles by a person and thereby earning money;
and to deceive, defraud and terroríze people by propagation and circulation
of so called miracles.
“So-called miracles” means acts which the black magic practitioner claims to be by a superior / super-natural force of which he has knowledge or control. Such acts may make it difficult for a common man to explain or justify, but are well known to science and technology.
Eg: In villages, the Black Magicians produce smoke from an ordinary coconut, or produce a blood-like substance from a whole lemon to show the people that they have magical powers to perform miracles. These “so-called” miracles are easily explained by science, with a little knowledge of chemistry.
Other common examples are:
- Walking on glass
- Sleeping on a bed of nails
- Enduring whip lashes
For more examples: http://60minutes.9msn.com/article.aspx?id=8376295
Common Superstitions and Practices that this law sought to fight:
- to perform Karni, Bhanamati,
- to perform magical rites in the name of supernatural power,
- to offer ash, talisman, charms etc. for the purpose of exorcism and to drive out evil spirits or ghosts,
- to claim possession of supernatural powers and to advertise this claim,
- to defame, disgrace the names of erstwhile Saints/ Gods, by claiming to be there reincarnation and thus cheating the gullible and God-fearing simple folks.
- to claim to be possessed by divine power or evil power and then perform miracles in the name of such powers.
- to punish and to beat mentally ill patients in the belief that they are possessed by evil spirits.
- to perform Aghori rites.
- to perform so called black magic and spread fear in society.
- to perform “Gopal Santan Vidhi” to beget a male offspring.
- to oppose scientific medical treatment and to coerce to adopt Aghori treatment.
- to sell or deal in so-called magic stones, talisman, bracelets, charms.
- to become possessed by supernatural powers and then pretend to give answers to any questions in this mental state.
- to sacrifice innocent animals for the appeasement of gods or spirits.
- to dispense magical remedies for curing rabies and snake bites.
- to dispense medical remedies with claims of assured fertility.
Due to difficulty in clearly defining some of these acts and distinguishing them from legitimate religious practices, the Schedule was watered down to 12 such acts, which could be clearly defined.
Related Case Laws:
- K P Hafsath Beevi, Farbina’s Mahal v. State of Kerala
decided on Tuesday, February 2, 2010. High Court of Kerala, WP(C).No. 29082 of 2008
The petitioner challenged the directions issued by the authorities to desist from holding out any offer to cure illness by conducting prayers.The judges ruled that:
…..the State and its officers are entitled to reasonably restrict such activity if it tends to offend security, public orders, decency, morality and sovereignty and integrity of India. This includes reasonable restrictions on the basis of public health and public tranquility; such restrictions being imposable in the interest of the general public……Article 51 A(h) provides that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to develop a scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform.
Balancing the duties of the petitioner in this regard and her fundamental rights referable to Part III of the Constitution, it has necessarily to he held that the impugned orders, to the extent they require the petitioner to desist from offering cures for illness on the basis of prayers, is a reasonable restriction imposed on grounds of public health, morality etc., particularly when she has no authentic scientific certification in support of any claim of such ability to cure.
- ‘Bhanamati’ sorcery and psychopathology in south India. A clinical study.