Any action of social boycott is a crime: Maha Govt

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A draft bill released by the Maharashtra government called as the ‘Maharashtra Prohibition of Social Boycott Act, 2015’ which was published on the state government’s website has termed any action of social boycott as crime.
MaharashtraMaharashtra will be the first state in the country to enact a law against social boycott of individuals or families by caste panchayats.
Maharashtra in recent times has witnessed an increased number of incidents of social boycott and violence at the orders of seniors in the caste panchayats, for not adhering to their rules. Slain rationalist Narendra Dabholkar too had picked up the issue before his murder in Pune. A number of activists and academics have been demanding an act against the foul practices of caste panchayats for years.
This won’t be the first time that the state is taking a lead in formulating such acts. Maharashtra was also the first in the country to enact anti superstition law.
The act has recommended seven years of imprisonment or fine of Rs. 5 lakh or both if the accused is proven guilty. As per the act, the trial shall be completed within a period of six months from the date of filing of the charge sheet.
The act defines “Caste Panchayat” as a Committee or a body formed by a group of persons belonging to any community, whether registered or not, which functions within the community to regulate various practices in the same community, controls personal and social behaviour of any member and collectively resolves or decides any disputes amongst their members including their families, by issuing oral or written dictums.
Any offence punishable under this Act shall be cognizable and bailable and triable by a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the First Class, as the case may be.
It has also made the provision of ‘Social Boycott Prohibition Officer’ to detect the commission of offences under the provisions of this Act. The officer will also assist magistrate and police officers to discharge their duties.
Krushna Chandgude, one of the prominent anti-caste panchayat activists in Maharashtra expressed pleasure over the government’s action. “It is a positive step from the government and we will be sending our suggestions to the draft. One of the major suggestions would be to make these crimes non-bailable. Hopefully we will succeed in it,” he told.
Advocate Asim Sarode who had submitted his own draft to formulate an act, said that the government’s step is encouraging to activists working in the field.