The controversial Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017 was passed in the Assembly on Thursday with opposition from only a few leaders.
The Bill was tabled by Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya on Tuesday. 'Vashikarana', an occult practice of subjugation was also banned after the discussion in the Assembly. Social Welfare Minister H Anjaneya said that based on discussions, performing Vashikarana or advertising about it will be banned.
Although most of the members of the Opposition did not object to the contents of the Bill, BJP MLA from Chikkamagaluru, CT Ravi, argued that the state government could not curb certain practices of the Hindu community.
CT Ravi was referring to the practice of Made Snana, when the bill was being debated. Defending the practice, the BJP MLA said that it should be up to the people to decide if they want to practice it.
“Why should it be banned. If people want to do it willingly, there is no harm. If someone is forced to do it, then the government can make it punishable,” CT Ravi said.
BJP leaders also questioned why the practice of sunnat by the Muslim community was not considered superstitious. “Sunnat also causes hurt to children. Why is not superstitious?” asked Vishveshwara Hegde Kageri.
Jumping in, MLA CT Ravi questioned if having halal meat can be called superstitious. “You are saying Muslim community hurt themselves during Moharram, then having halal meat should also be considered superstitious right?”
Offering to correct the MLA’s misconception, Higher Education Minister Basavaraj Rayareddy said that the members of the Muslim community resorted to inflicting pain on themselves to mourn the killing of Hazrat Imam Hassan, in the great battle of Hussein in the 10th century.
“How can this practice go on for so many centuries?” CT Ravi reasoned.
However, stating that certain practices need to be added to the list of banned ones, JD(S) leader YSV Datta said that the practice of Mahamatsabhisheka at Sravanabelagola, where litres of milk are poured on the idol of Bahubali, must also be banned.
While MLA BR Patil demanded that astrology and Vaastu also be included in the ambit of the bill, Leader of Opposition of the Assembly said that the law should include methods to create awareness among people about superstitious practices.
JD(S) President HD Kumaraswamy requested that the government ban the practice of conducting poojas in government offices.
While most members of the opposition were in support of the bill, JD(S) leader HD Revanna suggested that the government bring up the bill only after the 2018 Assembly elections.
When Chief Minister Siddaramaiah joked that the Bill will bring luck to the Congress, several members of the opposition brought up the issue of reports stating that the CM had changed his car because a crow had sat on it.
“My decision to change my car was not at all related to a crow perching on it,” the CM replied.
After the discussion, Social Welfare Minister, H Anjaneya, said that some suggestions made at the Assembly would be included in the bill. The Bill was passed by voice vote.
According to a report by Deccan Chronicle, devotees of the Kukke Subrahmanya Temple, who want to continue the practice of Made Snana are upset.
Bhaskar Bendodi, President of the Rajya Adivasi Budakattu Hitharakshana Vedike, has warned that the devotees would challenge the Bill in the Karnataka High Court.
Made Snana is a ritual where devotees, who belong to the backward castes, roll on plantain leaves, carrying leftovers of meals eaten by Brahmins. This practice was stayed by the Supreme Court in 2014 and devotees are now offering rice to the deity at the temple. They then feed it to the cows and roll over plantain leaves which contains the leftovers.
Which practices are proposed to be banned according to the tabled Bill?
Performing any black magic, inhumane act and evil practices in search of treasure or bounty, tantric acts which include physical and sexual assault, will be banned if the bill is passed by the Assembly. Practices such as parading people naked, ostracising a person in the name of a ritual and encouraging inhumane acts during said rituals, also come under the purview of the bill. Rituals of exorcism, assaulting people under the pretext of exorcism, misinformation and creating a panic-like situation under the pretext of ghosts and black magic will also be banned. Other practices such as making claims of having healing power, propagating practices that involve self-mutilation and coercing people to perform fire-walking will also be banned.
Which practices are not included?
Any form of worship including pradakshine, yatra, parikrama at any religious shrines, harikatha, keerthana, pravachana, bhajans do not come under the purview of the bill. Providing knowledge of ancient arts and practices, speaking about miracles performed by deceased saints and literature on them offering prayers, upasana, religious rituals at places of worship or at people’s homes, religious celebrations, festivals, processions, piercing of ears and nose, shaving of head, astrology and vaastu are considered acceptable under the bill.