New anti-superstition bill in karnataka

G.Ulaganathan

Bengaluru

Probably in the first case of its kind. The Karnataka government is all set to introduce a bill to save people from `agents’ and `promoters’ of superstitious beliefs and practices. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is known for his anti-superstition stand and is also not the habit of visiting temples at the drop of a hat like many other netas.

Though he may not call himself an atheist, in the strict sense of the term, he keeps away from rituals , frequent temple visits, pampering of the innumerable mutts in Karnataka, so on.

Though there has been a delay of over four years, the bill will at last see the light of the day. In fact, Siddaramaiah had promised before the elections to take stringent measures to stop exploiters of superstition and punish the guilty.

The State government seems to have finally made up its mind to table the controversial bill: The Karnataka Evil, Inhuman and Superstitious Practices Prevention and Eradication Bill.

However, buckling under pressure from several legislators and keeping in mind its votebank ahead of the general polls in 2018, only a ‘diluted’ bill has been discussed and cleared by the state cabinet. While the cabinet sub-committee had recommended a blanket ban on all kinds of inhuman practises, subjects like astrology, vastu and animal sacrifice are reportedly untouched and will be allowed without any interference by law enforcing agencies.

The final draft of the bill, to be placed in the upcoming state legislature session, was cleared by the scrutiny committee headed by state Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister TB Jayachandra last week.

Interestingly, the Law department has reportedly drawn a thin line between belief and superstition as a justification to denotify some of the practices!

A senior official of the law department, told SSB : “We have defined that a belief is nothing but a voluntary faith in something that has a scientific background and a superstition is nothing but a forced belief in practices that have no scientific relevance.”

Revealing that the scrutiny committee has cleared the bill, Jayachandra confirms that “Come what may, we will table it in the upcoming session of the state legislature.”

Astrology, Vaastu cleared!

The sub-committee, which revised the earlier draft, prepared as per the suggestions of experts from the National Law School of India University (NLSIU), has left out some practices such as astrology, palmistry, numerology and vaastu, while banning some inhuman practices such as Made Snana, Ajalu system, exorcism, black magic etc. “The committee had prolonged discussions about banning astrology and vaastu. But nowadays, several universities have been awarding degrees in astrology and hence it is regarded as a science. Vaastu also is being backed as ancient science and modern day architecture is imbibed with some of these elements. Hence, it was decided to allow these practises,” a member of the sub-committee said.

There has been a growing demand fromactivists that the government ban astrology and such shows on television, as they have caused severe damage to society in recent times.

This apart, practices such as sacrificing livestock, devotees rolling over leftover food at temples (Made Snana), exorcism, black magic, fire walking, piercing of human body parts have been banned.

Social Welfare department sources say that both astrology and Vaastu have been marked with ‘Question Marks’ suggesting that the state cabinet will take a final call on the issue.

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