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Disenchanting IndiaOrganized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India$

Johannes Quack

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199812608

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199812608.001.0001

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(p.341) Appendix 3: Anti-Superstition Bill

(p.341) Appendix 3: Anti-Superstition Bill

Source:
Disenchanting India
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

(Taken from http://www.camhindia.org/anti_superstition_eradication_bill.html, accessed on July 23, 2009.)

Bill No. LXXXIX of 2005

A Bill

to bring social awakening and awareness in the society and to create a healthy and safe social environment with a view to protect the common people in the society against the evil and sinister practices and customs thriving, on ignorance, and to combat and eradicate the evil, sinister and aghori practices born out of beliefs propagated in the name of some so called divine or supernatural or magical powers or evil spirits commonly known as Black Magic by quacks and conmen with sinister motive of exploiting and harming mentally, physically and financially the common people in the society and thereby destroying the very social fibre of the society: and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto.

WHEREAS alarming number of incidences of causing mental, physical and financial harm to and exploitation of, the common people in the society because of evil, sinister aghori practices and practice of Black magic and evil spirits, at the hands of quacks and conmen, conclusively have come to light:

AND WHEREAS under the circumstances it has become absolutely necessary for the Government to take appropriate and stringent social and legal measures to effectively contain such evil effects and spread of these harmful practices, usages and customs and belief in Black Magic and such other evil and aghori practices and to save the common people from falling pray [sic] to the sinister designs of the black magicians, quacks and conmen, whose false claims of possessing magical or miraculous remedies or powers and anti-social and harmful activities are threatening to damage the very social fibre and the beliefs of the common people in the authentic and scientific medical remedies and cures and are driving them, on account of blind beliefs and ignorance, to take recourse of such quacks, conmen and Black Magicians; it is hereby enacted in the Fifty–sixth Year of the Republic of India as follows :-

Mar. Short title, extent and commencement

1.

  1. (1) This Act may be called the Maharashtra Eradication of Black Magic and Evil and aghori Practices Act, 2005.

  2. (p.342) (2) It extends to the whole of the State of Maharashtra.

  3. (3) It shall come into force on such date as the State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, appoint.

Mar. Definitions

2.

  1. (1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, -

    1. (a) “Code” means the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973: 2 of 1974

    2. (b) “practice of Black Magic and evil and aghori practices: means the commission of the acts mentioned or described in the Schedule appended to this Act by any person himself or caused to be committed through or by instigating any other persons:

    3. (c) “prescribed” means prescribed by rules made under this Act;

    4. (d) “propagate” means issuance or publication of an advertisement, literature, article or book relating to or about Black Magic and evil and aghori practices and includes any form or direct or indirect help, abetment, participation or co-operation with regard to practice of Black Magic and evil and aghori practices;

    5. (e) “rules” means the rules made under this Act

  2. (2) Words and expressions used but not defined herein, shall have respective meanings as assigned to them in the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, and the Code 21 of 1954

Mar. Prohibition of Black Magic

3.

  1. (1) No person shall, either himself or through any other person promote, propagate or practice or cause to promote, propagate or practice Black Magic and evil and aghori practices described in the Schedule appended to this Act.

  2. (2) On and after the date of coming into force of this Act, advertisement, practice, propagation or promotion of Black Magic and evil and aghori practices in violation of the provisions of this Act by any person by himself or through any other person, shall constitute an offence under the provisions of this Act, and the person guilty of such offence shall, on conviction, be punished with 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.

  3. (3) whoever abets commission of, or attempt to commit any act or offence punishable under this Act shall be deemed to have committed that offence (p.343) and shall, on conviction, be punishable with the same imprisonment provided for such offence in subsection(2).

  4. (4) The offences punishable under this Act shall be cognizable and non-bailable.

Mar. Jurisdiction to try offences

4.

No court inferior to that of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Magistrate of a First Class shall try any offence punishable under this Act.

Mar. Offences by companies

5.

  1. (1) Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company, every person, who at the time the offence was committed was in charge of, and was responsible to, the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as the company, shall be deemed to be guilty of the offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly:

Provided that, nothing contained in this sub-section shall render any such person liable to any punishment under this Act. If he proves that the offence was committed without his knowledge or that he had exercised all due diligence to prevent commission of such offence.

  1. (2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company, and it is proved that the offence has been committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director, manager, secretary or other officer, responsible for exercise of proper care or supervision of the company in that respect, such director, manager, secretary or concerned officer shall be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Explanation - For the purposes of this section, -

  1. (a) “company” means a body corporate and includes a firm, association of persons or body of individuals, whether incorporated or not; and also includes a trust, whether registered under any law for the time being in force or not; and

  2. (b) “director” in relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm, and in relation to an association of persons or body of individuals, means any member controlling the affairs thereof; and in relation to a trust includes the person managing the affairs of the trust.

Mar. Vigilance officer.

(p.344) 6.

  1. (1) The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, and subject to such terms and conditions as may be specified in the notification, appoint for any one or more police stations as may be specified in such notification, one or more police officer to be known as the Vigilance Officer:

Provided that, such police officer shall not be below the rank of an Inspector of Police, Group ‘B’.

  1. (2) It shall be the duty of the Vigilance Officer—

    1. (i) to detect and prevent the contravention or violation of the provisions of this Act or the rules made thereunder, in the area of his jurisdiction and report such cases to the nearest police station within the area of his jurisdiction; and upon filing of complaint to the police station by any victim or any other person on his behalf to ensure due and speedy action thereon and to give necessary advice, guidance and help to the concerned police station;

    2. (ii) to collect evidence for the effective prosecution of persons contravening the provisions of this Act; and to report the same to the police station of the areas in which such contravention has been or is being committed;

    3. (iii)to discharge such other functions as may be assigned to him, from time to time, by the State Government, by general or special orders issued in this behalf.

  2. (3) Any person who obstructs the discharge of the official duties or work of the Vigilance Officer appointed under sub-section (1) shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees, or with both.

  3. (4) The Vigilance Officer shall be deemed to be a public servant within the meaning of section 21 of the Indian Penal Code. 45 of 1860.

Mar. Powers of entry, search, etc.

7.

  1. (1) Subject to the general or special orders issued in this behalf by the State Government from time to time, the Vigilance Officer may, within the local limits of the area of his jurisdiction, with the assistance of the police officers of his area:—

    1. (i) enter and search, at all reasonable times, with such assistance, if any, as he considers necessary, any place in which he has reason to believe that an offence under this Act has been or is being committed:

    2. (p.345)
    3. (ii) seize any material, instruments or advertisement which, he has reason to believe that the same has been or is being used for any act or thing which is in contravention of the provisions of this Act:

    4. (iii) examine any record, document or other material object found in any place mentioned in clause (i) and seize the same if he has reason to believe that it may furnish evidence of the commission of an offence punishable under this Act.

  2. (2) The provisions of the Code shall, so far as may be, apply to any search or seizure under this Act as they apply to any search or seizure made under the authority of a warrant issued under section 94 of the Code.

  3. (3) Where any person seizes anything under clause (ii) or (iii) of sub-section (1) he shall, as soon as may be, inform a Magistrate and take his orders as to the custody thereof.

Mar. Bom. XXII of 1951.

8.

The provisions of section 159 and 160 of the Bombay Police Act, 1951, shall apply to acts done in good faith by the Vigilance Officer under this Act, as if the Vigilance Officer is a police officer within the meaning of that Act.

Mar. Application of the provisions of the Bombay Police Act, 1951.

9.

The provisions of the Code shall apply to the investigation and trial of offences under this Act.

Mar. Application of provisions of the Code.

10.

The provisions of this Act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of any other law for the time being in force.

Mar. Act to be in addition to and not in derogation of any other law.

11.

  1. (1) Where any person is convicted of any offence punishable under this Act, it shall be competent for the Court convicting such offender to cause the name and place of residence of such person to be published by the police in the local newspaper where such offence had taken place together with the fact that such offender has been convicted of the offence under this Act and (p.346) such other particulars as the court may deem fit and appropriate, to be allowed to be published.

Mar. Publication of fact of conviction.

  1. (2) No such publication under sub-section (1) shall be made until the appeal (if any), filed against such order is finally disposed of.

Rules.

12.

  1. (1) The State Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette, and subject to the condition of previous publication, make rules to carry out for the purposes of this Act.

  2. (2) Every rule made under this Act shall be laid, as soon as may be, after it is made, before each House of the State Legislature, while it is in session for a total period of thirty days, which may be comprised in one session or in two or more successive sessions, and if, before the expiry of the session in which it is so laid or the session or sessions immediately following, both Houses agree in making any modification in the rule or both Houses agree that the rule should not be made, and notify their decision to that effect in the Official Gazette, the rule shall, from the date of publication of such decision in the Official Gazette, have effect only in such modified form or be of no effect, as the case may be; so, however, that any such modification or annulment shall be without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done or omitted to be done under that rule.

Savings

13.

For the removal of doubt, it is hereby declared that, nothing in this Act, shall apply to the acts involving religious rites and rituals which does not adversely affect any person mentally, physically or financially.

SCHEDULE

[See section 2(1)(b)]

  1. (1) Under the pretext of expelling the ghost assaulting by tying a person with rope or chain, beating by stick or whip, to make the person drink footwear soaked water, giving chilli smoke, hanging a person to roof, fixing him with rope or by hair or plucking hia [sic] hair, causing pain by way of touching heated object to organs or body of a person, forcing a person to perform a sexual act in the open, practicing aghori acts, putting urine or human excreta forcibly in the mouth of a person or practicing any such acts.

  2. (p.347) (2) Display of so called miracles by a person and thereby earning money to deceive, defraud and terrorise people by propagation and circulation of so called miracles.

  3. (3) With a view to receive blessings of super natural power to follow the evil and aghori practices which cause danger to life or grievous hurt; and to instigate, encourage or compel others to follow such practices.

  4. (4) Doing any inhuman act in search of precious things, bounty, water resource or for similar reasons in the name of karni, bhanamati and making or trying to make human sacrifice in the name of jaran maran, or dev devaski or to advice, instigate or encourage committing such inhuman acts.

  5. (5) To create an impression by declaring that a divine spirit has influenced one's body or that a person has possessed such divine spirit and thereby create fear in the mind of others or to threaten others of evil consequences for not following the advise of such person.

  6. (6) By declaring that a particular person practices karni, black magic or brings under the influence of ghost, or diminishes the milching [sic] capacity of a cattle by mantra-tantra, or create a suspicion about such person, or similarly accusing a particular person that he brings misfortune to others or is responsible forspread [sic] of diseases and thereby making the living of such person miserable, troublesome or difficult; to declare a person as satan or incarnation of satan.

  7. (7) In the name of jaran-maran, karni, or witchcraft (chetuk), assaulting any person, parading him naked or put a ban on his daily activities.

  8. (8) To create panic in the mind of public in general by way of invoking ghost by mantras, or threaten to invoke ghost, putting up a false show to make a person free from poisonous infection by invoking mantras or similar things, creating an impression that there is ghostly or divine wrath causing physical injuries and preventing a person from taking medical treatment and instead diverting him to practice aghori acts or treatment, threatening a person with death or causing physical pains or causing financial or psychological harm by practicing or tend to practice mantra tantra (chetuk), black magic or aghori act.

  9. (9) 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, ganda-dora or such other things.

  10. (10) claiming to perform surgery by fingers, or claiming to change the sex of a foetus in womb of a woman.

  11. (11) (a) to create an impression that oneself is having special supernatural powers, incarnation of another person or holy spirit, or that the devotee was his wife, husband or paramour in past birth thereby indulging into sexual activity with such person;

  12. (12) (b) to keep sexual relations with a woman who is unable to conceive assuring her of motherhood through super natural power.

  13. (p.348) (13) To create an impression that a mentally retarded person is having supernatural power and utilizing such person for business or occupation.

Statement of objects and reasons

  1. 1. An alarming number of incidences of causing mental, physical and financial harm to, and exploitation of the common people in the society because of evil and aghori practices, practice of Black Magic and evil spirits, at the hands of quacks and conmen have come to light.

  2. 2. Under the circumstances it has become absolutely necessary for the Government to take appropriate and stringent social and legal measures to effectively contain and eradicate the evil effects and spread of these harmful practices and aghori practices and belief in Black Magic and such other evil and aghori practices and to save the common people from falling prey to the sinister designs of the black magicians, quacks and con men, whose anti-social and harmful activities are threatening to seriously damage the very social fibre and the faith of the common people in the authentic and scientific medical remedies and cures and are driving them to take recourse to such quacks, conmen and black magicians, by enacting a special and stringent law to deal with such evil and aghori practices, customs, etc.

  3. 3. The salient features of the Act are as follows:

    1. (i) The practice, promotion and propagation of Black Magic, evil and aghori practices, and the unauthorized and illegal practice of medicine or healing or curing power by quacks, conmen, etc. is being prohibited by providing a definition of the term, “practice of Black Magic and evil and aghori practices.” Such practice is being made an offence under this Act and to serve as a deterrent, it is proposed to provide for the stringent penal provisions for such offences including making such offences cognizable and non-bailable;

    2. (ii) it is being provided that there would be a Vigilance Officer, who shall endeavour to detect and prevent, contravention of the provisions of this Act and the rules and collect evidence for the effective prosecution of the persons contravening the provisions of this law;

    3. (iii)it is proposed to provide for an enabling provision which would empower the court to publish the details relating to the conviction of a person for commission of an offence under the provisions of this law; and

    4. (iv) other incidental and connected matters

  4. 4. The Bill seeks to achieve the above objectives.

(p.349) Nagpur,

Dated the 13th December 2005

Chandrakant Handore,

Minister for Social Justice

Vilas Patil

Principal Secretary

Maharashtra Legislative Assembly