Any person found guilty of practising social boycott of people or their family members will be imprisoned for three years or fined Rs 1 lakh. In some cases both punishments may apply.
Moreover, the victims of ostracism will be able to claim a payout. The draft Act also allows for an out-of-court settlement between the complainant and the accused.
The Maharashtra cabinet on Tuesday approved the Prohibition of Social Boycott Bill, which will be tabled in the forthcoming Budget session of the state legislature. The session will commence on March 9. Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted on the draft legislation.
The bill aims to root out outdated and unconstitutional practices of caste panchayats.
But all this may have too late for Mount Everest climber, Rahul Yelange (31), and his advocate wife Pournima Yelange, who had faced social harassment in their own village in Raigad district. The two are now settled in Dubai.
In January 2015, TOI had reported how the Yelanges had faced a difficult time when they had moved back to their village in Raigad district to do dairy farming and promote adventure sports.
Pournima was taunted by the villagers for wearing jeans and not wearing a mangalsutra despite being married.
The members of the local gram panchayat had termed it a “petty” issue, which would be resolved. But matters turned worse some days after the media reported about the social boycott of the Yelanges. Their cowshed mysteriously caught fire and many farm animals were injured due to burns.
The couple had lodged a police complaint about the fire and then moved to Pune.
Talking to TOI on Tuesday, mountaineer Umesh Zirpe said: “Rahul was in my team during India’s first civilian expedition to Mount Everest in May 2012. Last year, we too had heard about the social problems faced by the couple. However, now they are settled in Dubai.”
Anarjit Chauhan, an RTI activist from Navi Mumbai, said, “It is a good move by the state government to stop anti-social traditions. However, such laws should not just remain on paper these should be properly implemented.”
The issue of social boycott was raised in the House in the last Budget session.
Courtesy: Times of India