After successful introduction of Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other inhuman Evil and Aghori Practice Act, 2013, Maharashtra is the first state to pass Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016 (Mah Act No XLIV of 2017). The Bill was passed in both the houses of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and Council and was sent to Central Govt for approval by the President on 16 Nov 2016. The Bill was approved by the President of Govt of India after prolonged consultation with six relevant departments and Commissions who gave NOC to the bill. The details were published as Maharashtra Gazette Notification and has come into force with effect from 3 July 2017
The Act was passed on the pre dusk eve of 125th Birth Day of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar with unanimous vote by all political parties of Maharashtra which is a fitting gratitude offered to him to strengthen the Constitution further. On this occasion Maharashtra ANS expressed its gratefulness to all Members of ruling and opposition parties. Very next day after passing this Act by both the Maharashtra houses, Telangana State also showed interest to pass the Bill and requested for a copy of the same. Thus this Act has become a Guiding Model to all States.
Dr. Narendra Dabholkar, the founder of the ANS had started a campaign against the caste panchayats and had organised a series of meetings across the state under the program named Caste Pancahayat Eradication Mission (जात पंचायत मूठमाती अभियान- Jaat panchayat muthmati abhiyan) Dr. Dabholkar held a series of meetings as part of this campaign at various places. Meetings were held in Nashik and Pune and plans were made to take the campaign to other parts of the state. Meanwhile Dr. Narendra Dabholkar was murdered brutally. In spite of this horrendous act of murder of ANS founder, Avinash Patil, Executive President and the ANS activists took the issue and conducted meetings and campaigns at various places against Caste Panchayat and received very good response from all walks of life and affected victims.
Four years ago not even a single complaint about this kind of most-hurtful action that could be inflicted upon any human being. There was no Law under which police authorities can take action against the so called ‘trustees’ of caste who excommunicate the person and /or its family members on pretext of some silly reason or misdeed and impose heavy fine. Govt published a notification stating that authorities can take action based on various sections of Indian Criminal Procedure Code. But this notification did not serve any purpose since police authorities have to take permission every time from Depts of Law and Justice as per IPC Section 153 (a). It resulted into enormous delay and the culprits have no fear of law or moral values and are free to do anything. They may even resort to take revenge on the complainants and terrorise them. As such there was an urgent need to have an independent law which will strengthen hands of the authority.
In fact ANS succeeded to abolish 13 Jaat Panchayats voluntarily after convincing the Trustees. But hundreds of Jaat Panchayats are still practicing excommunication methods on their brothers and sisters. This could be prevented only by powerful Law without any ambiguity. MANS drafted a Bill – Maharashtra Prohibition of Social Boycott Act, 2015 – with the assistance of Adv Nirmalkumar Suryavanshi, an able legal expert and an activist, under the proficient guidance of Avinash Patil. The draft was submitted to Govt of Maharashtra in 2015. The delegates of ANS took up follow up action with the Legal Minister and Minister of Social Justice and at the Sessions held during these years. Due to pressure form ANS and the media Home Ministry published a Bill ” Maharashtra Social Boycott Prevention Act, 2015″ on 18 Nov 2015 on their website. MANS revised the details of the act and issued a modified Draft with the assistance of BARTI of social Justice Dept. Mr. Devayani Pharande, MLA took this issue during the Assembly Session. Just two days before Mr Devendra Fadnavis, CM arranged a meeting on the insistence of ANS. The meeting was attended by Ramraje Nimbalakar, Chairman Legislative Assembly, Mr Ekanath Khadase Sr Minister, Mr. Ram Shinde, State Home Minister, Ms Neelam Gore, Shivasena MLC, Rajanish Seth, Secretary, A B Patil, Dy Secretary, Avinash Patil and Krishna Chandgude. ANS convinced the meeting that Eradication of Caste Panchayats is just not a problem of Law and Order but also a problem related to Social Justice. There was a whole hearted response from the members of the meeting. Just last day of the budget session both the houses unanimously passed the Bill on 13 April 2016. For this Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis deserves kudos. CM congratulated assembly members for passing such a progressive and far reaching Bill.
No person or group of persons shall gather, assemble or congregate at any time and at any place with the view or intention to deliberate on issue of imposing social boycott on any member of the community. Such gathering or assembly or congregation shall be treated as an unlawful assembly and every person convening and organizing such assembly and every member there of participating therein shall be punishable with a fine which may extend to one lakh rupees or imprisonment of three years or both. Any offence punishable under this Act shall be cognizable and bailable. The law stipulates that whoever imposes or causes to impose any social boycott on any member of his community, shall, on conviction, be punished with imprisonment. Such Caste Panchayat, any individual who has voted in favour of the decision or participated in decision regarding social boycott taken in such meeting shall be deemed to have committed the offence. When a Magistrate imposes a sentence of fine, the Court may, when passing judgment, order the whole or any part of Compensation to victim. The fine recovered to be given to the victim and his family, as the compensation. ANS is trying its best for rehabilitation of the victims and adequate compensation. MANS will prepare a special plan for proper and effective implementation of this law. The Govt had sought assistance for framing the rules and regulations in this regard. MANS is planning a campaign for implementation of this law.
This is a one more feather in the cap of ANiS who strives hard for social justice and prevention of exploitation in the pretext of religion, caste, creed and wealth.