President gives assent to Assam’s anti-witch hunting bill

President Ram Nath Kovind has approved the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention, and Protection) Bill, 2015, converting it to an Act, almost three years after it was passed by the state Assembly.

The Act, aimed at eliminating the superstition from the society, imposes a punishment of up to seven years and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh.

Highlights of the Bill:

The Bill contains provisions for imprisonment up to seven years along with a fine up to Rs 5 lakh for identifying and calling a person witch. This will come with Section 302 of the IPC if someone is killed after branding as a witch.

The punishment for leading a person to commit suicide after intimidating, stigmatizing, defaming and accusing as witch may be extended to life imprisonment and fine up to Rs 5 lakh.

The Bill also contains provisions about various measures that the administration and police need to initiate along with NGOs and civil society to educate people about witch hunting.

According to the bill, the fine realized as punishment for an offense shall be paid to the victim or his/her next of kin as compensation by following the procedures.

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