This article on ‘Anti-superstition and Black Magic Laws in India’ was written by an intern at Legal Upanishad.
Even in the twenty-first century, where we have reached the moon, where civilization and development are at their peak many Indians, both in rural and urban regions, still prefer to go to a Tantrik or an astrologer than a doctor who is trained to treat their conditions Superstitious believe and conservative thinking still have their root prevailing in our country.
The recent incident in Kerala of human sacrifice where two women were beheaded in the name of gaining financial prosperity brought to light the need for countrywide legislation on anti-superstitious and black magic law.
The perverted side of India’s contemporary civilization is exposed by recent murders perpetrated in the name of superstition. Even while education is crucial for putting an end to these practices, there is a legal obligation to confront the widespread use of black magic. There is a fine line between faith and superstition that needs to be defined in law since some people think these traditions and rituals performed in the name of God may be regarded as a manifestation of religion.
This idea is contained in the Anti-Superstition Bill of India, however, it has not yet been passed into law. Even after a number of strange events, including the Burari case in the nation’s capital of Delhi, there is no nationwide regulation in India. A few states, including Maharashtra and Karnataka, have laws that make it illegal to use black magic and that punish those who do.
Constitutional Provisions against Superstition
The provisions relating to superstitious beliefs and black magic in India are aforesaid:
- Article 25 and 26 provides freedom of religion and protect the interest of citizen regarding their respective religion.
- The approach of developing a scientific temper, humanism, spirit of inquiry, and reforms was inserted in the 44th amendment act.
- Article 51A (h) talks about the fundamental duty to develop a scientific temper of humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform to citizens.
- Article 21 guarantees life and liberty to every citizen. No person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty except according to the procedure established by law.
State-wise laws against superstition and black magic
The Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013, was widely publicized anti-superstition legislation approved by the state of Maharashtra. Black magic, human sacrifices, the use of magic to treat ailments, and other practices that feed on people’s superstitions are all prohibited by the law. The Act aims to decrease superstitions that cause property damage and financial loss. The offender faces a fine of between Rs. 5,000 and Rs. 50,000 and a term of between six months and seven years in prison if proven guilty. These offenses are all not subject to bail.
Let’s say the accused has been adjudged guilty by the court. In that situation, the appropriate court must order the police to publish the offense’s location and other relevant details in the neighborhood publication.
Following in the footsteps of Maharashtra, the state of Karnataka questioned law students at the National Law School in Bangalore. The 2013 Karnataka Prevention of Superstitious Practices Bill was written by students. This piece of law is known as the anti-superstition Bill. It is hoped that it will end a number of harsh traditions, such as witchcraft, black magic, and deeds carried out in the name of a faith that puts both people and animals at risk. It has provisions to deal sternly with abhorrent practices including human sacrifice, exposing women to the naked state, and sexual exploitation using supernatural entities.
The 2017 Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill was just approved by the Karnataka Cabinet.
The need for Assam’s anti-superstition law was brought on by reports of about 114 women and 79 men killed between 2001 and 2017. The Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015 was a law that was approved by the Assam assembly in 2015. As a result, labeling someone a witch now carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison and a fine of up to five lakh rupees. The punishment for causing someone to commit suicide through torture, stigmatisation, or branding them as witches are life in jail and a fine of five lakh rupees. Together with Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code, this Act will be enforced. This Bill nearly became an Act.
Bihar tops the list in enacting The Prevention of Witch (daain) Practices Act, 1999.
The same law exists in Jharkhand but concrete steps have not been taken to achieve the object and intent.
The state enacted Tonahi Pratadna Nivaran Act in 2015. The law provides for a maximum imprisonment of five years. Any person harms or tries to harm another society or animal or living thing by black magic or by any other means. A man or woman doing the said act is identified as ‘tonahi’.
Witch-hunting as well as the use or practice of witchcraft is illegal under the 2013 Odisha Prevention of Witch-hunting Act. A sentence of jail for a duration that must not be less than one year or greater than three years is the punishment for actions that harm or injure the individual upon whom such procedures are being done, as well as the practice of a witch doctor.
The Rajasthan Prevention of Witch-Hunting,2015 however provides for a harsher sentence in certain cases. In areas, where a violation of the act is found the government can impose a collective fine on inhabitants of that area.
Superstitious belief is regarded as a social evil, Constitution has given freedom of religion which is been misused and many practices are followed in the name of the religion which is harmful. The criminal code also doesn’t wholly govern ill practices only murder committed through superstitious belief or black magic is covered in the code. Violence and harassment are defined as ‘simple hurt’ in the code. States-wise enactments are made regarding anti-superstitious and black magic. But nationwide legislation is needed with stringent punishment where such evil practices need to be stopped in the name of religion.
While everyone should exercise their rights, this shouldn’t conflict with how others exercise theirs. To combat the negative effects of superstition and superstitious beliefs, India requires additional regulation. Even the laws that are in place can be improved upon and contain enough flaws to be exploited. However, given the necessity for further laws and regulations, it is impossible to overlook the need for education and a mature mental state so that people can distinguish between criminal activity, humanism, and superstition.
- “ANTI-SUPERSTITION LAWS IN INDIA: NEED AND CHALLENGES”, Samajho, January 2020, available at: https://samajho.com/upsc/anti-superstition-laws-in-india-need-and-challenges/
- Sumeda, “Explained | What are the laws against black magic and superstition in India?”, The Hindu, 20 October 2022, available at: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/explained-kerala-human-sacrifice-laws-dealing-with-black-magic-superstitions/article66017349.ece/amp/
- Kirti bhargava, “Explained: Where Does India Stand On Anti-Superstition And Black Magic Legislations?”, Outlook, 13 October 2022, available at: https://www.outlookindia.com/national/explained-where-does-india-stand-on-anti-superstition-and-black-magic-legislations–news-229607/amp