What are the laws against black magic and superstition in India?

Jul 03, 2024

Current Affair 1:

In India, there is no central law that exclusively deals with crimes related to witchcraft, superstition, or occult-inspired activities.

In 2016, MP Raghav Lakhanpal introduced the Prevention of Witch-Hunting Bill in the Lok Sabha, but it wasn’t passed. The draft provisions included punishment for accusing or identifying a woman as a witch, use of criminal force against a woman, or torture or humiliation on the pretext of performing witchcraft.

The Indian Penal Code (IPC) also prescribes punishment for related crimes like abduction and murder, but not for harming others via furthering superstitious and outdated beliefs. In the absence of a nationwide legislation, a few States have enacted laws to counter witchcraft and protect women from deadly ‘witch-hunting’.

Few states have adopted law:

Bihar (1999): Bihar was the first State to enact a law to prevent witchcraft, identification of a woman as a witch and “eliminate torture, humiliation and killing of women.” The Prevention of Witch (Daain) Practices Act came into force in October 1999.

Jharkhand (2001): Jharkhand enacted a similar law in 2001 -- the Prevention of Witch (Daain) Practices Act.

Chhattisgarh (2005): Chhattisgarh is one of the worst-affected States in terms of witchcraft-related crimes and targeted violence against women. A witch is called a “tonahi” in the State. In 2005 the State enacted the Chhattisgarh Tonahi Pratadna Nivaran Act 2005 along the lines of Bihar and Jharkhand.

Odisha (2013): Following the directions of the Odisha High Court to frame a law to deal with rising cases of witch-hunting in the State, the Odisha Prevention of Witch-Hunting Bill was passed by the Assembly in 2013.

Maharashtra (2013): The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013 was passed after the murder of anti-superstition activist Dr. Narendra Dabholkar the same year.

Rajasthan (2015): The State enacted the Rajasthan Prevention of Witch-Hunting Act, 2015 to “provide for effective measures to tackle the menace of witch-hunting and prevent the practice of witchcraft.”

Assam (2015): The Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Act, 2015, which received the President’s assent in 2018, provides for the complete prohibition of witch hunting.

Karnataka (2020): The Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Act, 2017 came into effect in January 2020.


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