Yediyurappa U-turn: Notifies anti-superstition law despite opposing it

In 2017, BJP had expressed strong reservation about the bill when it was tabled by then Congress govt

It aims to bring social awakening and awareness in the society and create healthy and safe social environment.

The BS Yediyurappa government in Karnataka has taken a sharp U-turn on its stance on the much-hyped anti-superstition law, which was passed by the previous Congress government led by former chief minister Siddaramaiah. The BJP had then expressed strong reservations about the bill, but now has chosen to notify the same.

The Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Practices and Black Magic Act RPT Act, which was passed by the state legislature on November 16, 2017, intends to protect common people against “evil” and “sinister” practices. It shall come into force from January 4 2020, said the government notification issued earlier this month.

The Act seeks to combat and eradicate other such inhuman practices propagated and performed in the name of “black magic” by conmen with the sinister motive of exploiting the common people, thereby destroying the social fabric in society. Further, it aims to bring social awakening and awareness in society and create a healthy and safe social environment.

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah congratulated BJP for enforcing the Act by rectifying its mistake of “condemning, hounding and maligning” his government when they tried to implement the Act with an intention to stop it. He also hoped that things which are beliefs now “don’t turn into superstition under pressure”.

Considered similar to the one in Maharashtra, the Act has savings and schedule categories, which classify practices that could be tolerated and those that need to be controlled
or prohibited.

The notification said nothing in the Act shall apply with respect to the forms of worship mentioned under the heading savings. These include practices like pradakshina, yatras, parikramas performed at religious places, among other normal practices. It also includes the advice with regard to Vastushastra, advice by jyothishya and other astrologers Practices included under the schedule for prohibition are — performing any inhuman, evil act and black magic in search of precious things, bounty and hidden treasures

Other practices listed under 16 points for prohibition are facilitating any person to roll over leaves of leftover food by other people in public or religious places or similar practices that violate human dignity; subjecting women to inhuman and humiliating practices like parading them naked in the name of worship or otherwise, such as “betthale seve“.

Also, forcing any person to carry out evil practices such as killing of an animal by biting its neck and coercing any person or persons to perform firewalk at the time of jatras (temple/village fest) and religious festivals have also been included, it added.

During the passage of the bill, certain amendments sought were made part of the bill, and a practice called Mudradharane by Madhwa Brahmins was exempted. As per this practice, Mudras (dyes) usually made of gold or copper are heated on coal fire and stamped on the body.

Vashikarana, practiced in occult science as an act of subjugation or advertising about it in the name of treatment has been banned under the act, following the suggestions made by the members during the debate in the assembly.

The legislation was earlier proposed as The Evil, Inhuman and Superstitious Practices Prevention Bill. After omitting the word superstitious, it was titled The Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017. Superstitious practices, including black magic, are punishable under the Act for up to seven years and a maximum fine of ₹50,000 can be imposed.

The act also aims to bring social awakening and awareness in society and create a healthy and safe social environment, and also calls for appointment of vigilance officers to oversee the implementation of the law.

(With inputs from agencies)