THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Even as incidents of superstition are thriving in the state, a comprehensive law mooted by the state police warranting stringent punishment ranging from three years' jail to capital punishment for superstitions is gathering dust. The proposed law assumes significance in the light of a newborn being denied breast milk for about 24 hours by his father as per the advice of a preacher on religious grounds in Kozhikode last week.
"Such incidents could have come under the purview of the provisions of the draft Bill," said DGP A. Hemachandran, director-general, Fire and Rescue Services, who drafted the Bill. It was following a few incidents of deaths caused by superstitions in 2014 that the government asked Mr. Hemachandran, who was then ADGP (Intelligence), to draft the Bill. While a woman was killed in Karunagapally following an attempt by a self-styled exorcist to exorcise a spirit from her body, an 18-year-old girl in Pathanamthitta died allegedly following a black magic treatment for a kidney ailment.
The proposed legislation titled 'Kerala Exploitation by Superstition (Prevention) Act' provided for three to seven years' imprisonment to those causing physical or mental injuries and loss of property to any person by way of supernatural or black magic acts. It prescribed five years' imprisonment to life term in case of sexual exploitation committed under the cover of superstition or black magic.
Capital punishment or life term was prescribed in case of death following superstition or black magic. Religious and traditional ceremonies, rituals and practices were excluded from the purview of the proposed law. Health Minister K.K. Shailaja Teacher told the Assembly on Monday that the government would consider bringing in legislation to curb superstitions and unscientific medical practices.