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Superstition is the belief without any logic on any issues, indication, instructions, etc. But sometimes superstition leads the way to keep in pain to some people and it may create a misery and afflicting situation which assembles some person to suffer. Many people follow any instructions, indication, practices, etc through illogical means. As if we talk about India, we come in contact of many people who practices in some superstitious activity and have faith in the superstition, for instance, such as some people believe that while walking in the road if they perceive cat crossing the road before they are very inauspicious and it indicates negative signal or something wrong could be happened to such people and by the same token, I’m flaunting one of such superstition that is witch-hunting and this article will lay out the concept and inhuman treatment involved in it, as well as legal areas, case laws, etc. In ancient time, witch-hunting and witchcrafting was practised in a very vast range. It was evolved from Europe when ladies were against the church in Europe, then people over there considered them bad evil and used to burn them, thereafter it had spread like an infectious or viral ailment and
MEANING OF WITCHCRAFT
Many people have an opinion and believe in superstition of witch-hunting which deals generally with women. Witch-hunting refers to a broad concept which gives the meaning that is to believe in or practise of magical or unnatural skills to use with negative intention such as to haunt someone, to kill or hurt anyone, etc. It is believed that witch-hunting is practised by women who consists of negative energy and having some magical powers specifically that evil one. People think such women have an absorptance of chudail, daayan, etc into her body and by using her magical powers, may cause any kind of harm or damage to anyone. And, therefore in order to prevent such harm or hurt, they treat her inhuman and sometimes in the name of superstition people practice inhuman treatment.
WITCHCRAFTING AS A CRIME
Witchcrafting is the superstition which supports the arrival of crime commission. The crime such as hurt, grievous hurt, cruelty, murder, culpable homicide, etc are committed by the people in the name of witch-hunting, they just consider a women “witch” and believes that she contains magical powers and by such power, she could haunt or harms anyone and duly stop such haunt or harm, they cause injury and perform inhuman treatment, sometimes they used to kills. This is totally inhuman activity conducted by the people on the illogical basis. Sometimes, a woman may be mentally sick or having a mental illness or perhaps suffering from any mental disorder but some people assume it to be abnormal behaviour arisen from witch-hunting or effect of witch-hunting and in this way, they commit crime and tortures to such woman. And in the name of witch-hunting, people rape then acquire them, blame them for any inauspicious thing, acquire her property, women of the same society calls her by the name of negative or evil energy such as daayan, etc.
Sashiprava Bindhani vs Unknown, 2012, In this case, the petitioner prayed before the court of Orissa for providing guidelines and directions to the state government to make rules and regulations to preclude the practices of inhuman treatment in the name of witch-hunting as CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination Against all forms of Discrimination) also provides protection against such inhuman practices and Bihar government also laid down the statute for the prevention of such practices. The court held direction and guidelines to the state government for introducing the bill for the protection against such inhuman treatment involving witchcraft.
OFFENCE AND ITS PUNISHMENT INVOLVING WITCHCRAFT
There is not at all an exception contained with our penal laws which provide that on the basis of any superstition or assumption of the existence of magical power of evil, any person may cause harm and commit the offence. However, there is no legal provision under Indian penal code, 1860 which provides punishment for the person practising inhuman treatment for witch-hunting but it provides the crime and its punishment which is generally involved with witchcrafting that are basically, crime committed in the name of witchcrafting such as Murder (section- 300), culpable homicide (section-299), attempt to murder (section-307), miscarriage (section-312), grievous hurt (section- 320), cruelty (section- 498-A), assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty (section-354), etc. These are the crimes given under IPC which are punishable offence and are punished under the IPC such as punishment for murder is given under section 302 that is life imprisonment or the death penalty, punishment for culpable homicide is given under section 304 that is life imprisonment or 10 years imprisonment, punishment for miscarriage is upto 7 years imprisonment and liability of fine under IPC, punishment for grievous hurt is given under section 325 that is upto 7 seven years imprisonment and liability of fine, punishment for cruelty is up to 3 years imprisonment and liability of fine the punishment for assault or use of criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty are given under section 354 that is between 1 year to 5 years imprisonment and liability of fine, etc.
LAWS REGULATING THE INHUMAN TREATMENT OF WITCH HUNTING
There are some states wherein the witch-hunting is practised massively, namely Rajasthan, Haryana, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, UP, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, etc. In these states, the commission of inhuman treatment in the name of witch-hunting is happening till now also. There is the unavailability of the specific provisions for the witch-hunting but there are some state laws which were been made due to increased crime rate lead by the inhuman treatment in the name of witch-hunting. In the past years, reports of crime bureau came with a number of death and other crime records which were in connection with witchcrafting. Therefore, some states decided to take any action against it by making laws, rules and passing the Bills for providing protection against such inhuman treatment of witch-hunting and prevention for women to suffer.
- In the state of Bihar, the government established the statute for regulating the offence of witch-hunting and preventing the inhuman treatment arises from it, named as The Prevention of (daayan) witch Act,1999.
- In the state of Jharkhand, Anti witchcraft act was established in 2001 to provide protection against the inhuman treatment and practices involving witch-hunting. It provides punishment for inhuman treatment.
- In the state of Chhattisgarh, the government introduced a bill in the year 2005 well known as Chhattisgarh Tonhi Pratama bill, 2005. It was made for the purpose to end the inhuman treatment in the name of witch-hunting and safeguard the women.
- In the state of Rajasthan, the government had introduced a bill named as Rajasthan Women (Prevention and Protection against Atrocities ), 2006. This bill includes the provisions regarding the inhuman treatment in the name of witch-hunting as a crime, its punishment and even called by the name as Dayan shall also be a crime under this bill. And in 2015, the government had introduced the Rajasthan prevention of witch-hunting act, 2015.
- In the state of Orissa, the Orissa Prevention of Witch-Hunting act was established in 2013 for preventing the inhuman treatment in the name of witch-hunting.
- And in the state of Assam, the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection Act) 2015 was established with the aim to preclude the crime against women in the name of witchcraft.
In the case of Moyna Murmu vs State of West Bengal, the Calcutta High Court laid down that the women treated and suffered due to inhuman behaviour in the name of witchcrafting shall be entitled to avail the assistance under Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 and delivered the directions and guidelines to the state government for improving the conditions and deviating the inhuman treatment belongs to witchcraft, the direction also includes to the state government to frame compendious compensation scheme for the victims of Witchcrafting under the section 357-A of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The Apex court in the case of Ashok Laxman Sohoni & Anr. Vs State of Maharashtra laid down that the action performed by the accused in the name of witchcrafting is considered to be the offence of murder as he was having the knowledge about the outcome of his action.
VIOLATIVE OF ARTICLE 14, 16, 21 OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
The practice of inhuman behaviour in the name of witchcraft also violates some articles of the Indian constitution. The article 14, 15 and 21 are violated by the inhuman treatment against women in the name of witch-hunting. These violations of Indian constitution leads the contribution towards inhumanity. The Indian constitution provides under article 14, the equality for every individual in the eyes of law and equal protection of the law for every person but the inhuman treatment involved in witch-hunting violates this article as because such treatment does not consist any equality, also this practice violates the article 15 which states about the prevention of discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, the practice of witch-hunting involves the inhuman treatment by people in the name of witch-hunting in which they treat badly with any lady assuming her to be witch and this is done only with a woman, not with any man, hence this practice is the act which performs discrimination with men and women as it consists inhuman treatment with only women. Lastly, this practice also violates article 21 of the constitution, article 21 designates the fundamental right for citizens and non-citizens. It states that every individual shall have the right to life and right over their liberty and no other person shall have the right to infringe or disturb such right, therefore killing or taking away the life of any person in the name of witchcrafting is the violation of this article.
The very disheartening part which I personally acknowledged after studying about the practice of witchcrafting, firstly this targets the women, conduct of ill and inhuman treatment to the women which harms and spoils their life. It is somehow a kind of discrimination which only exploits the women. And subsequently, the crime is committed by the people in the name witch hunting which is itself a superstition with no logic at all. Women are caused an injury, grievous hurt and sometimes be killed and any other crimes conducted with them by giving the reason for preventing of witch or harm which they assume to be caused by her if such woman behaves abnormally. There may be the possibility of not having mental conditions with a woman or suffering from mental illness or any mental disorder but for such conditions, there are many remedies available for the treatment of such women like admitting her in a mental asylum, however, inhuman treatment is not at all any remedy and must not be done as it is completely unacceptable. And thus with the passage of time, many legislations established for the prevention of such treatment in many states so that such practice to be removed and to provide protection against such practices.