BANGALORE: Punishment for torturing woman as ‘witch’ is same as that for slapping a person!
This, probably, explains best the importance given to handling crimes related to miracles, superstition and black magic in Karnataka.
If a woman is hounded as a witch, police register a case under Section 323 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (causing voluntary hurt). If the offender is found guilty, he could be let off by a fine of Rs 1,000 or imprisoned for a maximum term of one year. If the police officer generously uses the IPC and presses another provision in the law, section 500 of IPC (defamation), then the accused, upon conviction, may get a maximum of two years simple imprisonment or fine, or both.
Like in most states, even in Karnataka, it is the outcome and not the motive, which matters. Though police record the motive while registering cases, the accused are not charged based on the motive. There are no special laws to deal with superstitions, miracles or black magic. Police book these cases under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code. Hence, a human sacrifice or the murder of a woman as witch is equated as murder.
The police, lawyers and rationalists are unanimous about a separate legislation, on the lines of the one brought out in Maharashtra on Wednesday, to deal with superstitions, miracles and black magic.
Take for instance, Sati and dowry harassment. Sati is not treated as just suicide and killing of a woman for dowry is not treated as just murder. Both have special laws. Similarly, social problems require special understanding, treatment and legislation. The IPC is vague and does not care to the complexities of these issues,” said former director general and inspector general of police S T Ramesh.
If a special legislation is not enacted, it’s not only difficult to curb these primitive practices, but also difficult for people like us to survive for long,” said Hulikal Nataraj, science teacher, miracle buster and founder of Pavaada Samshodhane Kendra.
Advocate Ramesh Babu says an exclusive legislation will help ensure justice to the victims. The exclusive laws help deal with a problem better. Along with the penal provisions to act as a deterrent, the new legislation should also have a compulsory clause on awareness. Unless both go together, it’s not easy to handle social problems,” he said.