Maharashtra becomes first state to pass law against social boycott

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The Maharashtra legislature has unanimously passed  the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, which seeks to crack down on extra-judicial bodies like caste and community panchayats.

Maharashtra became first state in the country to adopt a comprehensive law to root out oppression carried out in the name of age old traditions, caste and religion.

The enactment of the Bill will lead to the repealing of the Bombay Regulation II of 1827; the Caste Disabilities Removal Act, 1850; the Bombay Prevention of Ex-Communication Act, 1949.

Salient features of the bill

  1. The bill prohibits the social boycott of a person or group of persons, including their family members, by an individual or a group like caste panchayat.
  2. The provisions of the law define social boycott as a cognisable, but bailable offence, and provide for an imprisonment of up to three years or Rs. 1 lakh fine or both.
  3. Social boycott for reasons like inter-caste marriage, rituals of worship or any connection to lifestyle, dress or vocation will invite stringent punishment. 
  4. A social boycott prohibition officer will also be appointed to ensure proper monitoring and to detect offences and assist the magistrate and police officers in tackling such cases.
  5. As per the Bill, the victim or any member of the victim's family may file a complaint either through the police or directly with a magistrate. 
  6. To ensure speedy justice, the trial shall be completed within a period of six months from the date of filing of the chargesheet.

What is Social boycott ?

Acts like compelling anyone to speak or not to speak a particular language, obstructing access to any place used for charitable, religious, educational, medical or public purposes, or from getting benefit under charitable or wakf bodies, denying anyone right to marriage, funeral or rituals, or social and business relations with other members comes under the category of social boycott.

Who will be the offender ?

Any person who individually or in an organised criminal manner commits acts like denying any member/members of his community access to places of worship and compelling him or her to wear or not to wear a specific type of clothing or footwear, shall be deemed to have imposed social boycott or social discrimination.

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