Karnataka state cabinet cleared the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017, on Wednesday. The bill that is yet to be passed by the state assembly will put an end to superstitious practices such as Made Snana, a traditional but controversial ritual under which devotees roll over the plantain leaves containing food left behind by Brahmins. The practice had been inviting strong criticism from progressive thinkers and rationalists for quite a few years now who had been mounting pressure on chief minister Siddaramaiah to impose a ban on it. Apart from this, the bill seeks to ban all other practices carried out in the name of religion such as witchcraft and black magic.
Among other rituals proposed to be banned by the bill are women parading and dancing naked for boon in the Hindu deity Renukamba Devi temple, fire walking, acts such as rod piercing in mouth that involve causing physical harm to people, inequality against menstruating women, pelting of stones on houses, invocation of ghosts, throwing children on thorns and a few others.
There are, however, a number of religious practices that the bill does not prohibit such as circumambulation (parikrama), hair sacrifice, celebration of religious festivals, astrological advice, prayers without physical harm and propagation of miracles of saints.
During his address to the media, law minister T B Jayachandra said that the bill has been brought to prevent common men from being victimized by conmen and black magicians in the name of religion. The bill has a provision of seven years imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 50,000 for those who indulge in committing or promoting inhuman/ evil practices and black magic. Those who injure or kill people while doing any such thing will be charged with murder. For crackdown against conmen and black magicians, vigilance officers of the rank of police inspector will be appointed by the state.