President of India has given assent to the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016. Maharashtra has thus become the first state in the country to bring a law making social boycott a crime.
In recent times, Maharashtra had 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.
- A number of activists and academics have been demanding an act against the foul practices of caste panchayats for years.
- The movement, initiated by late Narendra Dabholkar, gained momentum after he was shot dead and the Maharashtra legislature passed the law unanimously in 2016.
Details and Key Provisions of Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016:
After clearances from several central Ministries, President gave his assent to the Bill in June 2017 and thereafter Maharashtra State Government’s law and justice department published it in the gazette on July 3, 2017.
- The new law proposes action against extra-judicial bodies like caste and community panchayats.
- 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.
- There is a provision for punishment of up to three years in jail and/or a fine up to Rs. 1 lakh.
- The abetment of the offence also attracts the same punishment and fine.
- The case has to be fast tracked within six months from the date of filing the charge sheet.
- The fine charged from accused will be partially or fully handed over to the victim.