The governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which had termed as “anti-Hindu” the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Act, 2017 while it was in the Opposition, has now made a U-turn as the State government has notified the Act.
The Social Welfare Department, which is the nodal department, has formally notified the Act and it came into effect from January 4, 2020. The BJP and some Hindutva groups had strongly opposed the Bill passed by the Congress government led by Siddaramaiah in 2017.
The law bans several practices, including facilitating any person or persons to roll over leaves on which others have partaken food in any public or religious place or similar practices that violate human dignity (made snana); coercing any person to perform firewalk at the time of jatras/religious festivals, causing physical injury; practice of piercing rods from one side of jaw to the other, including the tongue, (baibiga practice); pelting stones in the name of banamati; and mata-mantra on residential houses during night or day.
According to rules that have been issued, the government will take up programmes to create awareness among citizens about the “ill effects of the inhuman evil practices and black magic” apart from providing medical relief to persons injured because of superstitious acts.
Vigilance officers will be appointed to monitor implementation of the law and they will be assisted by the police, it said. Persons who obstruct the discharge of duties of the vigilance officers would face imprisonment for not less than three months or a fine of up to ₹5,000 or both.
The Act states that a half-yearly review will be done to check the status of the implementation of the law and the State police chief is expected to submit district-wise details on cases that have been filed.
Congress govt. had refrained from notifying Act
The erstwhile Siddaramaiah government, which had worked on, finalised and framed rules for the law against superstitious practices back in 2017, had refrained from notifying the Act fearing protests from Hindu organisations and possible electoral setback. The BJP, then in the Opposition, had strongly opposed the Act.
T.B. Jayachandra, who piloted the Bill as the Law Minister then, told The Hindu on Thursday that the government then framed rules for the Act but refrained from notifying them expecting public outrage.