Maharashtra becomes first state to pass law against social boycott
The Maharashtra legislature has unanimously passed the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, 2016 to end the menace social boycott practiced by extra-judicial institutions like caste and community panchayats.
With this Maharashtra became first state in the country to adopt a comprehensive law to root out oppression carried out by parallel justice delivery system (kangaroo court) in the name of age old traditions, caste and religion.
Key Features of Bill
- The Bill terms social boycott as a crime and says anybody indulging in it would face imprisonment maximum upto three years and a fine of 1 lakh rupees or both.
- It disallows social boycott of any individual or groups by caste panchayats or groups of individuals or gavki or by its members or by social or economically influential persons.
- Persons involved in practice of social boycott for reasons like rituals of worship, inter-caste marriage, any connection to lifestyle, dress or vocation will face stringent punishment.
- The offence registered under the act will be congnizable and bailable. It will be tried by a judicial magistrate of the first class.
- The victim of social boycott or any member of the victim’s family can file a complaint either to police or directly to the magistrate.
- The bill has indicated speedy trial within six months of filing chargesheet in such cases in order to ensure time-bound results.
- Government will recruit social boycott prohibition officers to ensure monitoring and to detect offences and assist the magistrate and police officers in tackling such cases.
In recent times, Maharashtra had witnessed an increasing number of incidents of social boycott and violence at the orders of caste panchayats. However, existing laws were found to be inadequate in dealing with such practices. For years, number of activists and academicians in the state were demanding stringent law to root out menace of social boycotts from the state.