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Need For Statutory Restrictions On Witchcraft

Woman branded a witch, nose chopped off in Bihar.
Man arrested for human sacrifice, skeletons found at his house.
Father sacrifices his own daughter to attain greater wealth.

Heart wrenching isn't it? It seems so grotesque reading such news headlines. Such are the practices of, the art of witchcraft. Witchcraft, as surprising it would sound to some people, still exist in the shadows of the world , hidden from modern lights.

People in the today's world have become restricted in their thoughts and have accepted the fact that what can be seen through eyes is only true. They tend to forget the abstract, what culture they belonged and what are it's preachings. This neglect , alienation and belief of nonexistence of witchcraft has led , that in today's world where a good sum of population are harmed by it, there are no central statutory laws which restrict these practices. India, a country of culture and religion, wherein lies witchcraft; but regardless of this a good number of urban population doesn't believe in its existence.

WITCHCRAFT, (also called Witchery or Spell Craft) is the art or practices of a witch, sorcerer, magician. The belief and practice of magic has been present since the earliest cultures and continues to have an important religious and medicinal role in many cultures today.[1]In the practice of Witchcraft, ordinary consciousness is suspended, and experiences rapture, trance or ecstasy may be seen, more spectacular variants of these states such as wild dances and hypnotic chanting, have become predominant in popular perception, and exaggerated tales of naked rituals and licentiousness abound.[2]

Magic is central not only in primitive societies but in 'high cultural' societies as well. Since BLACK MAGIC, has traditionally referred to the use of supernatural power or magic for evil and selfish purposes. Harut and Marut (mentioned in the Quran in Surah Al-Baqarah) were two angels who are known to be behind bringing black magic to this world. Black magic is the malicious counterpart of benevolent white magic.ThoughWhite magic is supposedly utilised only for good or unselfish purposes, the invocation of demons or spirits is an accepted part of black magic, and is distinct from the worship or deification of such spiritual beings.(2) VOODOOhas been associated with modern Black Magic.[3]

Witchcraft is an art , when used for immoral purposes,then termed black magic.Believing in witchcraft is not necessarily problematic; the actions taken in consequence of belief, however, may violate Human Right standards.[4]Use of witchcraft is not evil , it's misuse is. I am obligated to mention that, witchcraft is also used for medicinal purposes, many doctors in India consider witchcraft as an aid which heals the body in ways, where no medicine can heal.

Regardless, Indian people's belief in black magic is often followed by memories of violence, torture and even mutilation. According to Times of India, a National Crime Records Bureau report revealed that more than1,700 women were murdered for witchcraft between 1991 and 2010.[5] The actual numbers are much higher. Social reaction to the issue of black magic can cause felony, it allows conmen to exploit people in the name of faith. Thus, Crimes due to these practices is on the rise and the absence of uniform law causes perpetrators to roam and practice these evils freely.

Where people go unpunished for practising witchcraft for harming others , it certainly becomes a source for people to fulfil their vengeance , prove their supremacy on others. More importantly non-uniform state laws provides different punishment for the same offence.

Though these laws are implemented in a handful of states, absence of national law results in inefficiency. Where such laws are not implemented, it becomes difficult for judges to decide cases where misuse of witchcraft is alleged , even if a case got registered in court On What Basis Should A Judge Convict The Accused If It Is Proved That He Practiced Black Magic. One should imagine the difficulty police must be facing when investigating cases relating to these practices. In many countries abuse of witchcraft is unlawful, these practices are also considered religiously and morally wrong (given in the Holy Quran, The Bhagvad Gita and The Holy Bible).

When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. (In The Holy Bible-Deuteronomy 18:9-14)

..Then, they used to learn from them that (black magic) with which they could cause separation between a man and his wife. But they were not to bring harm through it to anyone without the will of Allah. (Quran in Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 102)

Worshippers of the celestial gods take birth amongst the celestial gods, worshippers of the ancestors go to the ancestors, worshippers of ghosts take birth amongst such beings, and My devotees come to Me alone. (The Holy Bhagavad Geeta-BG Chapter 9.25)

The misuse of witchcraft began unfortunately with a large number of Black magic enthusiasts giving in to their greed and using these powers to attain worldly pleasures. That is when these powers began to be mistakenly identified as the yoga of black magic, witchcraft, seduction and an amalgam of techniques for influencing the mind of others. With the growing rate of crimes being committed in the name of human sacrifice, offering and prayer, it is now desperate for the law to step in and curb such social evils.

But if it is that simple, why hasn't the law banned these practices already? What is stopping the lawmakers from making laws against all such practices and from eradicating them?'[6]

The practice of witchcraft has been a part of Indian society since time immortal. Though it was prevalent more in the Bengal and Northeastern region during the Mughal reign, gradually it expanded throughout the entire country.

Since the post-independence era, there have been no national laws which penalise witchcraft practices.

Section 2(e) of THE PREVENTION OF WITCH-HUNTING BILL, 2016 defines"ojha"as a person who claims that he has got power or knowledge to identify witches and to have a capacity to attain control over them or who uses Jhad Phoonk(blowing), either to cure or protect from evil spirit or who causes damage, suffering or harm for the purposes of healing any disease by giving Tabij (locket), Mantra or any substance claiming to have the power to heal from witchcraft sufferings and includes persons known as Guni, Shekha or Jan or by any other name.[7]

Section 2(h) of the bill defines "witch" as any woman who has been branded as witch by person or persons in belief that such women has the power to harm anyone or that she allegedly have such intention or having the belief that she has bad eyes or evil eyes or could do black magic or that she, by Mantras can harm people or society at large, in any manner.[8] Section 2(i) defines "witchcraft"as the supposed power of a person to harm the other by:
  1. occult or supernatural means secret use of Tabij or any water or watermixture pretending it to be sacred; or,
  2. any other substance or things like spell, spirits or magic power with the purpose of causing harm, damage or sickness to other person or harm or damage to the properties.[9]
Section 2(c) of The Drugs And Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 defines magic remedy:
As a talisman, mantra, kavacha, and any other charm of any kind which is alleged to possess miraculous powers for or in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease in human beings or animals or for affecting or influencing in any way the structure or any organic function of the body of human beings or animals.[10]

The Indian Penal Code provides a punishment of upto one year in prison and/or a fine of up to 1,000 rupees for voluntarily causing hurt. Most often Section 323 is used to prosecute the perpetrators of witchcraft and witch hunts. The Indian Penal Code criminalises human sacrifice as murder and provides a penalty of death or life imprisonment as well as a fine.
But these provisions are cures, not prevention. Witchcraft restricting laws which have been implemented by few Indian states criminalise 'the practices and prayers' which result in grevious hurt and death.

Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013:
is against fraudulent and exploitative practices. The law punishes practices like Dakin, Jadutona (black magic), Mantra-Tantra, etc. that openly exploit gullible people. A person if convicted of the crime committed under this law, will be sentenced to hard labour in prison from 6 months to 7 years.[11]

The purpose of this act is to bring social awakening and awareness in the society and to create a healthy and safe social environment with a view to protect the common people in the society against the evil and sinister practices thriving on ignorance, and to combat and eradicate human sacrifice and other inhuman, evil, sinister and aghori practices propagated in name of so called supernatural or magical powers or evil spirits commonly known as black magic by conmen with sinister motive of exploiting the common people in the society and thereby destroying the very social fibre of the society; and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.[12]

The State government was concerned regarding the number of incidences of exploitation of the common people in the society because of human sacrifice and other inhumanand practices of black magic by conmen, had continuously come to light.Under such circumstance it became absolutely necessary for the state Government to take appropriate and stringent social and legal measures to effectively prevent such evil effects and spread of these harmful practicesand to save the common people from falling prey to the sinister designs of the black magicians and conmen.

The important thing is that this law unlike other laws has described the evil practices which occur in the state.

The crimes described in the Ordinance are:
  • Under the pretext of expelling the ghost, assaulting by tying a person with rope or chain, beating by stick or whip, humiliating (by making the person to drink footwear-soaked water, giving chilli smoke, hanging a person to roof), torturing (by fixing him with rope or by hair or plucking his hair, causing pain by way of touching heated object to organs or a body of a person), forcing a person to perform a sexual act in the open, practicing inhuman acts, putting urine or human excreta forcibly in the mouth of a person or practicing any such acts.[13
  • Display of so called miracles by a person and thereby earning money; and to deceive, defraud and terrorise people by propagation and circulation of so called miracles.
  • Instigate, encourage or compel others to follow the inhuman, evil and aghori practices which cause danger to life or grievous hurt, with a view that they will receive blessings of supernatural power.
  • Accusing a particular person that he brings misfortune to others, or is a cause for spread of diseases and thereby making the living of such person miserable, troublesome or difficult and to declare a person as satan or incarnation of satan.
  • Assaulting any person, parading him naked or put a ban on his daily activities in the name of witchcraft (locally called jaran-maran), creating panic in the mind of public in general by way of invoking ghost or mantras or threat, causing physical injuries thenprevents a person from taking medical treatment and instead diverting him to practice inhuman acts or causing financial harm by practicing or tend to practice black magic or inhuman act.
  • Prohibiting a person from taking medical treatment in case of dog, snake or scorpion bite and instead giving him treatment like mantra tantra, or such other things.Claiming to perform surgery by fingers or claiming to change the sex of a foetus in womb of a woman.
  • Creating an impression that special supernatural powers are present in himself, incarnation of another person or body spirit or that the devotee was his wife, husband or paramour in the last birth thereby indulging into sexual activity with such person. Portraying a mentally retarded person to have supernatural powers and utilising such person for business or occupation.[14]

Crimes against women in the name of witchcraft caused other states to implement necessary legislation to penalise such practices.These laws do not punish witchcraft practices unlike the Maharashtra law, but discuss about how 'in the name of witchcraft' people are tortured.
  • Though Bihar being a backward state, was the first to pass a law against witch hunting in the year 1999, which was named Prevention of Witch (Dayan) Practices Act. The law criminalises torture and harm caused to a woman branded as a witch plus the Act also prohibits any harm to a woman in an attempt to cure her; the penalty for such an act is one year in prison and/or a fine of 2,000 rupees.[15]This Law instead of being more strict in terms of punishments and fines, is lenient.
  •  Jharkhand established Anti Witchcraft Act in 2001 to protect women from inhuman treatment as well to provide victim a legal recourse to abuse. Basically Section 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the concerned Act talks about the punishment which will be granted if any one accuse someone of being a witch, tries to cure the witch and any damages are caused to them. Whereas Section 7 states the procedure for trial.
  • Chhattisgarh government enacted the Chhattisgarh Tonahi Pratadna Nivaran Act, 2005and Odisha government enacted the Odisha Prevention of Witch-hunting Act, 2013to protect the people from atrocities in the name of Witch-Hunt.
  • Rajasthan Government enacted the The Rajasthan Prevention of Witch-Hunting Act, 2015, to provide for adequate measures to tackle the menace of witch-hunting and to prevent the practice of witchcraft in the State. Assam Assembly has passed a The Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill in 2015. Though, the bill has been referred back to the ministry, it prescribes the most rigorous punishments for witchcraft and witch hunting and followed acts, it alsodiscusses the need for special courts to deal with the issue and the fine collected will be given to the victim as compensation.[16]

Even after implementation of such state laws; crimes due to witchcraft are on a rise, difference as per provision of punishment among state laws and absence of proper national legislation to support the state laws causes inefficiency of existing laws. Example- Bihar Prevention of Witch (Dayan) Practices Act, instead of being more rigorous against the practice, the laid down punishments and fines are far less than those under the IPC for corresponding offences.

International laws
Witchcraft is practiced throughout the world. Even in the deepest jungles of Amazon some sort of witchcraft is practiced by locals. Some countries have taken this topic very seriously and implemented national laws which efficiently curb such practices.

Saudi Arabia takes witchcraft so seriously that it had banned the Harry Potter series (till 2018).[17]The Saudi government's obsession with the criminalization of the dark arts reached a new level in 2009, when it created and formalized a special "Anti-Witchcraft Unit" to educate the public about the evils of sorcery, investigate alleged witches, neutralize their cursed paraphernalia, and disarm their spells. Saudi citizens are also urged to use a hotline on a website to report any magical misdeeds to local officials.[18]Crimes including adultery, armed robbery, apostasy, drug-related offences, rape, witchcraft and sorcery are punishable by death.

In QueenslandSection 13 of the Vagrancy Act 1958 which is entitled Fortune Telling and Pretending to Exercise Witchcraft, state that any person who pretends or professes to tell fortunes or uses any subtle craft means or device by palmistry or otherwise to defraud or impose on any other person or pretends to exercise or use any kind of witchcraft sorcery enchantment or conjuration or pretends from his skill or knowledge in any occult or crafty science to discover where or in what manner any goods or chattels stolen or lost may be found shall be guilty of an offence.[19]

Criminal law of Indonesiaposes a serious threat to commercial sorcerers: men and women who sell black magic to clients, often for hefty prices.[20] Article 545 of the Criminal Code makes fortune-telling and dream-divining illegal. Article 546 makes illegal the purveying of talismans and the provision of invulnerability. The attempt is to criminalise the black magic with criminal policy in the sense of new offencein order to prevent criminogenesis, societies fidgetiness and persecution.

Criminality of black magic is existed in article 293 RKUHP (Indonesian Criminal Code) which states that, Whoever claimed that he has supernatural power, disclose, giving hope, and offer helps to other can affect the one's physical and mental suffering, he will be brought to the prison maximum time of 5 years or being fined, and if the criminal offenders does the action for looking for profits or make it as livelihood or habit, then it will be fined.[21]

In Malawi (Africa) Witches are most commonly accused of kidnapping children at night to teach them witchcraft, which leads to community outrage and fear. Though the Malawi Witchcraft Act is under review of law commission, the intention of the Act was to, "eradicate dangerous practices such as trial by order, the use of charms and witchcraft itself."[22]It is an offence to accuse someone of practicing witchcraft. Accordingly, it is also an offence to claim to practices witchcraft, pretending (to practice) witchcraft, and profession of witchdoctor or witch finder is also punishable.[23]

Adjoining Malawi is Tanzania, where Witchcraft is a huge issue, the levels of belief are very high, with horrific consequences for two groups in particular; older women, and people with albinism.[24] THE WITCHCRAFT ACT defines 'witchcraft' as, act includes sorcery, enchantment, bewitching, the use of instrument of witchcraft, the purported exercise of any occult power and the purported possession of any occult knowledge. Under Sections 3, 4, 7, an act is criminal offence under this act, if the act is to claim to possess the power of witchcraft, to make, use, possess or claim to possess any instruments of witchcraft, to supply instruments of witchcraft to others, to advice others on the use of witchcraft, to threaten to use witchcraft against people or property, to employ someone to use witchcraft, to accuse someone of using witchcraft, or of being a witch or wizard, except when reporting to official bodies such as the police.[25]Section 5 limits sentences (minimum sentencesrather than maximum sentence), it differentiates between offences committed with mens rea, disease, injury, or misfortune and those committed without any such intent. Section 8, gives powers to District Commissioners to order someone who is suspected of practising witchcraft to reside in any specified locality within his district until such order is varied or revoked. It is like a Concentration camps for suspected witches (probably unconstitutional).[26]

Challenges Faced And Need For Implementation Of Laws
  1. Judiciary
    It is said that, Mughal's feared not the Army of Assam but power of the chants in their black magic.
    Though the Maharashtra Anti superstition and black magic act, curbs black magic practices, jurisdiction of the act is limited within the boundaries of the state. While across the country incidents like, 134 people were killed for the alleged use of "black magic" in 2016, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

    Over 2000 women killed in India for practicing 'black magic' in 14 years.[27] The numbers are undoubtedly actually higher, as many cases go unreported or authorities refuse to register the cases, even the victims are tortured, traumatised and intimidated thus don't find a place in official records.

    Efforts are made by nearly half a dozen States in India in enacting laws to prevent misuse of witchcraft and black magic but still many states have not shown enough of conviction against the problem. Differences as per the punishments and fines prescribed under the state lawsdo not provide similar treatment to the same crime.

    In 2014, Debjani Bora (a national level athlete and won many medals ) was accused of witchcraft and was assaulted in Assam. If such a crime can be perpetrated against an acclaimed athlete anyone can fall victim to such communal violence.[28] Courts consider black magic practices and witch hunting as one of the worst forms of human rights violations. In rural India, being a victim of caste discrimination is considered way better than being termed as a witch.

    The Court in Bhim Turi vs State of Assam[29] noted that in the North-Eastern states, some people, mostly elderly women, are branded as witches and thereafter they are subjected to severe abuse in the name of getting rid of the evil supposed to be in them. In a case, the accused, before giving knife blows to the deceased who was totally blind and in December years of life, had shouted saying that she was witch and by using black magic, she had killed his mother and cow; was punished for murder under section 302 of Indian Penal Code.[30]

    After analyzing Article 25 of The Indian Constitution, which mentions that freedom of religion is guaranteed as long as it lies within the ambit of public order, morality and health. Brutally murdering innocent lives for the sake of fulfilling selfish desires surely lies outside this scope.[31]

    No punishment without law as Article 7 of Human Rights Act says - No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national law at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the criminal offence was committed. Nulla poena sine lege (No one can be penalised on the ground of conduct which was not penal on the day it was committed.)[32]Increased crimes related to witchcraft is on a rise due to absence of laws.

    Though The Indian Penal Code provides a punishment of up to 1 year of imprisonment and/ or a fine of up to 1,000 rupees for voluntarily causing hurt which is applicable for black magic but does not protect those who get enticed to voluntarily take harm in the name of faith (black magic) to attain worldly pleasures. Another challenge faced is that, Practical and popular definition of witchcraft usually differ from the formal state legal definition of witchcraft.

    Most witchcraft and witch-hunt cases are dealt with by the Section 323 of the Indian Penal Code where the victim has not been murdered. This Section prescribes a very meagre punishment which is same as what one gets on slapping a person. The offence which involves such a grave existence of Mens Rea(criminal intention) calls for a harsher punishment.

    Premier code for criminal law was a model piece of legislation but requires a:
    Thorough revision to meet the changing needs of the 21st century, said the former President Pranab Mukherjee[33], The normal system of justice does not deal with witchcraft problems and in its place mob justice fills the gap. Poverty and hopelessness are important drivers of witchcraft. The limited and difficult choices available to authorities on how to deal with the problem, denying or accepting reality of such belief/faith law provides for an unrestricted practice of witchcraft in most states in India.

    Since Prevention is better than cure, Indian Penal Code does not prevent commission of evil practices, it cures it under offences like hurt and murder (Section 302for Human Sacrifice) providing punishment. A national law, which prevents commission of such offences, a national law which prevents evil practices, Aghori practices and various puja (prayer) in the name of faith is absent. The Penal code punishes the offence but not the process behind it.

    The Indian Penal Code is not equipped to deal with crimes on account of black magic and other superstitious practices. While writing this article I went through numerous cases registered in high courts and a few in supreme courts against the state of Maharashtra and Jharkhand where either the first information report or the witness statement under section 161 or section 164 CrPC stated the use of witchcraft and black magic.

    In many cases, a conviction has been ordered and a charge has been framed pertaining to the accusation that black magic or witchcraft of some form has been used. This is possible since there is a statutory law implemented by the state government (ofMaharashtra and Jharkhand). Punishment in Sharif khan vs state of Maharashtra [34] is based on both the Indian Penal Code and offence committed under Maharashtra Black Magic Act 2013.

    Even then Adequate punishment is not given for the use or the harm caused by the use of such practices.

    There is a dying need for a law which restricts use of anti-superstition black magic and checks on conmen. Absence of national law causes the words such the witchcraft or tantric or voodoo or black magic or Jadu tona to be often neglected from witness statements and first information reports, which results in lack of awareness amongst people and difficulty in finding cases relating to such incidents. Many petitions like, in the state of Madhya Pradesh addressed to the Chief Minister [35]signed by people for want of anti-superstition and black magic law have been started.

    Even though the state of Bihar has enacted Prevention of Witch (Daayan) Practices Act it seems to be of no use. In August 2018, a government-run hospital in Bihar's Vaishali's district where people are treated by occultists (tantrik) and exorcists (ojha) instead of doctors.[36]Every superstition cannot be removed by the force of law. For that, a mental change is necessary.[37]People need to be educated in order to accept such changes.

    The relationship between a devotee and so-called godman is often marked by violence.The Supreme Court in the case of Ishwari Lal Yadav v. State of Chhattisgarh [38], has affirmed the death sentence awarded to a 'tantric' couple accused of murdering a boy, by performing the ritual of human sacrifice. The allegations against Kiran Bai and her husband Ishwari Lal Yadav were that both of them believed in tantrism(black magic). Kiran Bai wanted to attain spiritual powers. She was also proclaimed as gurumata (godman).

    To propitiate the God, she asked her husband and disciples who are the other co-accused along with them, to get a small child for human sacrifice. For the purpose of sacrifice to God, a child from their neighbourhood, aged two years then, was kidnapped, murdered in a gruesome manner and buried, inside their house.[39]

    The acts preceding human sacrifice cannot be stopped as they involve some puja and offerings. These offering and puja are certainly not banned under any law. Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and Other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013, has considerably curbed not only the act of human sacrifice but also the puja/prayer before such sacrifice by banning it under the law. The law also makes it possible to curtail activities of so-called godmen before they become too powerful.[40]

    Even though a few states have their own laws against the witchcraft, still there are vital lacunae that need to be addressed in their formulation due to its current inefficiency.Existing state laws have not been able to control, the social menace in regards to black magic, whether it may be through punishment or fine.

    In many current laws , the term 'whoever claims', implies that a confession is required in the court (as statement given to police is not admissible in court). There are, however, several prima facie problems with focusing on claiming or confessing use of such practices. First, confessions rarely occur. Practitioners of black magic are typically thought to be secretiveor because they do not actually believe they possess it; alleged sorcerers rarely confess.

    Black Magic in many parts of India is unhighlighted, practitioners do not usually self-identify or confess. Secondly, even if a confession did occur, it might be difficult to get evidence from a witness. Witnesses might be expected tofear repercussions opposing so called godman. This is another practical weakness in the draft law.

    The third problem is epistemological. From a Western empirical perspective you cannot confess to the impossible. It is possible to confess to theft, but it is difficult to see how one can confess to doing something magic, if 'magic' is understood to be impossible. Magic is considered real in Indian Law, it becomes clear that confessing to sorcery is the problem.

    Someone who uses sorcery but does not confess to be punished, isn't it a prefect crime. With very low acquittal rates, along with widespread reports of police corruption and brutality, it is possible that police might forcefully obtain confessions from the accused.
  2. Police And Society
    "For every case that we hear about there are at least 10 others," Dr Richard Hosking on witchcraft cases.[41]

    There is a "lack of adequate training for police officers" to detect abuse in such cases as the main problems lies at the first stage of investigation. Numerous cases are registered in the police station , where the First Information Report (FIR, Section 154 Code of Criminal Procedure), the statement in front of police (Section 161 Code of Criminal Procedure) contained allegations of misuse of witchcraft and black magic; but these allegations were neglected, in many cases these allegations are not written in such reports.

    This level of incompetence assures those who practice black magic and give them a free pass to its unrestricted use. 'It is necessary to uproot this problem at the first instance'. In India, the opposite is happening. If the accusations as to use of black magic are neglected in the first instance how can they be proved, If not proved, how can society identify it as a threat, and implement laws to curb it. At the first stage of reporting a crime the problem is not highlighted, no wonder a good number of Indian population are naive enough to think that these practices occur only in (Harry Potter) movies.

    When a community believes itself to be under the threat of physical or cultural extinction, people tend to rely more heavily on supernatural explanations.[42]The fear of witchcraft and sorcery (known as banamati in the local language) is deeply rooted in psyche of the common people in the Telangana area, and in surrounding districts of Karnataka and Maharastra as well'. Said the Atheist Centre(team headed by Dr. G. Samaram) to investigate witchcraft and sorcery in that area. At times the criminals escape punishment for their misdeeds. As the medical help is not available in the villages, the people fall prey to the quacks who exploit the ignorance and ill health of people and attribute their body ailments to sorcery and witchcraft.[43]

    The problem lies in Lack of faith; accepting social evils as a part of society, not as a taboo- Being practiced since centuries witchcraft has formed its own cult. Many cultures in rural India do symbolise witchcraft as a part of their heritage. As a result, the fear of being excommunicated from a society causes people to neglect the banes witchcraft/black magic brings. 'The unwillingness of communities to name perpetrators and local policemen's belief in the guilt of the accused'[44] uplifts these practices.

    Illiteracy is the main source of all problems relating to social evils, including witchcraft. Accepting a fact without questioning its existence or presence whether it may be a boon or bane, has been in the society since ages. So-called 'Godman' are being treated as incarnation of gods, who fool people to no extent. As per NSS 71st round report in rural India 27.7% male and a whopping 43.2% females are illiterate.[in rural India 72.3% Male and 56.8% Females are literate][45]

    Witchcraft accusations in India are on the rise being commonly linked to extreme violence and persecution. Persons accused of witchcraft are often subjected to physical abuse, their property and belongings vandalised or burnt, forced to undergo dangerous religious ceremonies or even killed. Witchcraft accusations and the associated violence are grave threats to human dignity and safety and those accused of it suffer severe human rights violations.

    Identification of risk group to prevent false accusation is essential. Risk groups include women, elder citizens and children. Victims of witchcraft accusations, who are most commonly children and older women, face banishment from their communities, loss of property, arrest, imprisonment, and physical violence. Such allegations tend to stick throughout the entire life and may prevent proper cremation of the alleged. Those accused of witchcraft may flee their home areas to escape anticipated harm or may be forced from their villages by the community.

    Puja Roy, in Sanctioned Violence: Development and the Persecution of Women as Witches in South Bihar, presented case studies that demonstrated that while communities profoundly believe in evil spirits...these beliefs and fears are usually exploited by a few community members who have ulterior motives in suggesting that a woman is a witch,Sarah Garap, a human rights defender interviewed by Amnesty International, indicated that 95% of those accused, tortured and killed are women and that those who intervene are themselves at risk of being accused and killed.[46]

    Very rarely deaths of alleged witches and the people responsible are brought to justice. Women who are black tongued are keenly targeted for being called a witch. About five reports a month are lodged with police against women believed to be witches in Jharkand state, the national figure could be in the thousands.[47] Hundreds of those women are subsequently killed or injured[48]or are publicly humiliated, tortured, or are exiled from their village.[49]

    In Chhattisgarh, more than 100 women are tortured, paraded naked or harassed in the state every year.[50]The identification of witches is used as a weapon of control against women, according to Seeds(organization for development of women in Jharkhand).

    Though it is easier to remove an elderly heir of property by being called a witch, the question now asked is, what makes a society turn on its own young people and see in them the source of evil that threatens the whole community?[51]Javier Aguilar, a child protection officer for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) highlights that the severe financial pressure faced by parents and the sudden deaths that can occur (often AIDS or malaria-related) cause crisis in the family a) weakening or collapse of the extended family, b) family recomposition, c) difficulties in being a parent in a society whose foundations and future prospects have been destroyed.[52]

    Feelings of envy, hatred, jealousy and fear frequently accompany witchcraft accusations, which have been interpreted as a conscious or unconscious displacement of responsibility for a rupture in an interpersonal relationship.[53]Socialcrises acts as a catalyst leading to witchcraft accusations.

    Health, political cultural crises - result in the collapse of communitybased safety limit.During these critical periods of indeterminacy, when old and new forms of social organizations are in a state of flux, the anxieties generated by such moments are most likely to be translated into societal fears and suspicions.[54]

    Economic crises-The poor can be accused of jealousyinduced witchcraft, and the welltodo can be accused of practising witchcraft to acquire wealth.[55]

    Extreme condition include floods, earthquake cause economic disparity and households near subsistence levels of consumption to kill (or expel) relatively unproductive elderly household members to safeguard the nutritional status of other members, in response to negative income shocks.[56]

    As of now what is need is urgently formulation of laws that aim at curbing such evil witchcraft practices and only when such laws will be implemented throughout India,then the people will repel from their unreasonable slumber towards causes like these.

Conclusion and Analysis
Changing attitudes includes exposing fraud and teaching critical thinking about superstition, which sometimes runs counter to long-held indigenous beliefs. The inefficiency to tackle this problem, due to absence of national law causes instability and rift in the society. A Law must Criminalise black magic to prevent criminogenesis, persecution and fidgetiness of the society.
The issued can be effectively tackled by reducing poverty in the society, increasing employment rate, provide healthy living condition and proper education to children, most importantly controlling the population. Creating organized committees which educate people relating to the evils of witchcraft is necessary. Identifying the the changes 'Law and Government' can make, and implementing them will curb these practices.

  • Indian Penal Code provides for the punishment of offences which are committed in the processes related to Witch-hunting but not witchcraft. Also IPC does not prevent commission of such offences, it cures it under offences like hurt and murder. Where Nearly 2,000 people across India, mostly women, were killed for alleged witchcraft between 2005 and 2015, the most recent numbers available from India's National Crime Records Bureau.[57] A national law which prevents commission of such offences, a national law which prevents evil practices, aghori practices, various puja (prayer) in the name of faith, protects people from false allegations and checks on conmen is desperately essential.
  • Accusing someone of practising witchcraft is a violation of Human Rights. As reported in many cases the accused is under life threat from his community. The law should follow Article 11 of Universal Declaration Of Human Rights which states 'innocent until proved guilty' and prevent mob attack on the person who is accused.[58] Laws be bolstered to offer maximum protection for the accused. Legal practitioners and community members need to be held accountable to these laws in order to better understand the concerns of communities and foster constructive communication with the aim of eradicating harmful practices relating to witchcraft beliefs.
  • The most important legal aspect is that - the black magic is a mystical problem; medical and forensic evidence presented in the case may not enough to be relied upon, but proof through Evidence; Expert Evidence and Witness Statement and in rare cases through Admission and Confession is possible.
  • Common practices should be identified by each state and laws should be implemented to restrict them. A national law should contain a brief description of the practices which are most common, and should contain equal and fair punishment. There should be similarity in punishment given for similar crimes among various State Laws.
The seriousness of the witchcraft problem should be recognised and consider it to be a stumbling block in national development. In the current national poverty eradication strategy, the government mentions that the incidence of witchcraft is closely associated with poverty and therefore poverty reduction will reduce the incidence of witchcraft.

Witchcraft and black magic can also be reduced effectively by educating the people, mainly in rural areas and by instilling in them, a sense of rationality. Efficient laws need to be accompanied by efficient social welfare delivery mechanisms as well.

As we know, witchcraft and black magic cases are on the rise because of a combination of factors, including poor health and medical services and education, poverty and in most states absence of laws. Thus, the strategy to combat this social evil has to be developed.

As a matter of fact, the best strategy that the Government can adopt is:
  • The government should focus on the enforcement of anti-witchcraft laws. The advocacy of witchcraft laws is crucial to the Indian society as there is no central law specifically against this evil so that there is effective prosecution of the practitioners.
  • A national law should be implemented which acts as a foundation for new state laws to be formed and for existing laws to perform with more efficiency. Maharashtra anti-superstition law is the most effective state law. Thus, it should be kept in mind while forming similar laws.
  • International laws should be referred from while implementing new laws.
  • Local NGOs can play a very vital role. NGOs working for prevention of witchcraft atrocities should focus on unemployed rural class and efforts to detract attention from such adverse practices and apply their energy in other constructive purposes.Since outside intervention in rural communities is frowned upon, rationalists face difficultly in winning support from people with heavily ingrained beliefs.

    The Government should support NGOs to ease the solution. The Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) has taken an interest in stopping witch hunts and witchcraft, black magic through literacy programs in which women directly voiced their complaints to judges and state officials in attendance.[59]Even the Indian Rationalist Association, which has more than 100,000 members, engages in rural outreach that teaches critical thinking and exposes superstition.
  • Government should organise groups at village level and draw up creative plans in consultation enhance the self-confidence, economic independence and create awareness amongst people in rural areas.
  • Witchcraft usage increases in times of disparity. Government through strategies of poverty eradication, rural integration, and relief funds should focus on elimination of these practices.
  • Important issue is the backwardness of people and the lack of rationality in their minds, there should be campaigns launched against superstition and the black magic practices.
  • Raise awareness amongst school children, as they are the future of the nation, so that this issue can be effectively eradicated from the grass root level. Including the evils of witchcraft and other social evils in school curricula can effectively tackle this problem.
  • Prevention of false accusations by identifying the women, elder citizen and children as risk groups.
  • Special cells should be setup at the district and state levels for identification of the survivors and their rehabilitation.
  • Ensure proper monitoring and follow up of reported incidences.
  • Including witchcraft practitioners in the police unit to act as experts.
  • Police sensitivity to curb these practices at the initial stage (when writing report) is presently low. Police should be trained and special anti-witchcraft unit should be established to deal with such cases (like Saudi Arabia's Anti-Witchcraft Unit). Recruits in an anti-witchcraft unit within Saudi Arabia's powerful religious police have begun a new training course on theoretical and practical aspects of countering sorcery and the black arts.[60]

    Police Must Deal With Witchcraft Accusations. The fact is that accusations of practicing witchcraft may be based on any factual evidence, nonetheless, such accusations, more often than not, invariably lead to physical violence (including mob violence, arson, assault and murder).[61]
Regular inspection by experts relating to witchcraft in areas where most cases are being reported.
  • Social abuse by con-men must be prevented.
  • Victims of witchcraft and witchcraft accusation to be provided with relief and compensation.
    Supreme Court in Gaurav Jain v. State of Bihar[62], directed State Government to undertake the following steps in order to ensure and eradicate the evil practice of witch hunting[63]:-some of these guidelines can work efficiently in case of witchcraft cases as well:
  • The State Government shall form a Committee comprising of experts from the field of public administration, sociologists, etc. to look into the prevalence of the practice of witch hunting (here witchcraft) in various districts in the State of West Bengal with special emphasis in tribal areas and the Committee shall submit its report to the State Government within six months from date of the order.
  • In the event of the commission of a witch hunting (here witchcraft) related activity, officers of the special cells would promptly register criminal cases against the offenders and take necessary remedial measures in the matter.
  • The State Government may also explore the possibility of formulating a Comprehensive Victim Compensation Scheme under Section 357A of the Code of Criminal Procedure for victims of witch hunting (here witchcraft).[64]
This article expresses the need for laws which restricts use of witchcraft more importantly prevents use of black magic and informs people to know the difference between the former and the latter. Social stigma relating to witchcraft is enough to silence the voices of those who know about it. The modern lights hide the old customs and practices, though they still prevail in the society. Witchcraft and black magic prevail more in rural areas,while many people in metro cities are excluded from knowledge its existence.

With the enactment of proper schemes and laws, eventually the mentality of people will broaden, the social stigma relating to black magic and other practices will diminish. These laws will make more people, become educated enough to save themselves, even police officers will be well equippedwhen dealing to faith based cases and finally judges will be benefitted while deciding cases relating to such issues.

  1. International Journal of Scientific andResearch Publication Vol. 5 issue 6 June 15 Edition [ISSN 2250-3153]
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. Introduction: the Evil Called Witchcraft in Imagining Evil: Witchcraft Beliefs and Accusations in Contemporary Africa
  7. The Prevention Of Witch-Hunting Bill, 2016
  8. Ibid
  9. Ibid
  10. The Drugs And Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954

  12., bare act
  14. Ibid
  15. National Commission for Women, 89, A Situational Analysis Of Women And Girls In Jharkhand, http;//
  16. The Rajasthan Prevention of Witch-Hunting Act, 2015
  17. , the Jerusalem Post
  20. International Journal of Multi Disipline Science (IJ-MDS) e-ISSN: 2615-1707
  21. Ibid
  22. Malawi Law Commission, 'Witchcraft Act Review Programme (Issue Paper)', April 2009,
  23. Ibid
  25. Ibid
  26. Ibid
  29. 2017 SCC OnLine Gau 813
  30. State Of Gujarat vs Gambhirsinh Narubha Jadeja on 3 July, 1998,
  31. The Constitution Of India by DD Basu
  32. AIR 1989 SC 1854
  34. In Sharif Khan S/O. Wasal Khan Pathan vs The State Of Maharashtra. Accused was alleged for offences punishable under
    Sections 302, 498-A, 323, 504, 506, 34 of I.P.C. and Sections 3 and 4 of Black Magic Act, 2013.Refers to, Maharashtra Law Journal.
  39. Ibid
  42. Imposing Aid, Oxford University Press (1986), available at
  43. Investigating witchcraft and sorcery in Rangareddi District, India. Skeptical Briefs 12(2) (June)
  44. Golooba-Mutebi Witchcraft, Social Cohesion
  46. (Amnesty International. Papua New Guinea: Violence against women: Not inevitable, never acceptable,
  47. The Guardian,
  48. Ibid
  49. Ibid
  50. Ibid
  51. Ibid
  52. Aguilar Molina, Javier. The Invention of Child Witches in the Democratic Republic of Congo:
    Social cleansing, religious commerce and the difficulties of being a parent in an urban culture, Save the Children (2006)
  53. Ibid
  54. Witchcraft Fears and Psychosocial Factors in Disease, 30 Journal of Interdisciplinary History 573
  55. Containing Occult Practices: Witchcraft Trials in Cameroon
  56. Witchcraft, Social Cohesion and Participation in a South African Village
  57. Miguel, Edward. Poverty and Witch Killing,
  59. Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  63. 1991Supp(2)SCC133
  64. State Government directed to follow certain measures in order to eradicate the evil practice of
    witch hunting,
  65. Ibid

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