Assam Anti-witch hunting Bill still waiting Presidents nod even after three years
At a time when the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government is mooting launch an awareness drive against the superstitious beliefs, titled Sanskar-Manuhe Manuhor Babe, the anti-witch hunt bill which was passed by the Assam Assembly in 2015 is still awaiting for the approval of the President.
It may be mentioned that the Assam Assembly had unanimously passed the Assam Witch hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill in 2015. Any offence under the Act is non-bailable, cognizable and non-compoundable to eliminate the superstition from the society.
Not only witch-hunting, crimes related to other superstitions beliefs were also brought under the ambit of the Bill. For identifying and calling a person witch, the Bill made provisions for imprisonment upto seven years along with a fine up to Rs 5 lakh.
In wake of protests against the Karbi Anglong mob lynching incident, social activists and anti-superstition crusaders demanded a separate Act to deal with crimes related to superstitions.
Gita Bhattacharya, State programme Director, Assam Mahila Samata Society, said, “Although the anti-witch-hunting bill has been passed by the Assam Assembly, it is yet to be implemented. The zeal with which the Bill was passed has fizzled out now.”
She added, “The Bill must be given due priority. A lot of effort has gone into passing the Bill in the Assembly and now the officers concerned should see to it that the Anti-witch Bill materializes into an Act. The Bill is the need of the hour.”
After examining the legal aspects of the Bill, three years back the State government had sent the Bill to the President seeking his assent to make it a law.
As per sources, while examining the Bill, many loopholes were detected by the Ministry of Home Affairs.