Pune: After getting President’s assent on Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal), Maharashtra has become the first state to enact the law aimed at curbing the cases of social boycott by Jaat Panchayat or Gavki.
The bill was passed in 2016 by both the houses of assembly in April last year. This is considered to be a major win for Maharashtra Andhashradha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) as finally their efforts in bringing an Act for prohibiting Jaat Panchayat in carrying out its sinister designs is in place.
The State government recently published the Act in the official gazette after obtaining President’s consent on the bill. According to this Act, for expelling a person from the community, the person or group can be imprisoned for three years or they may attract a fine up to Rs one lakh or both.
As per the Act, such expulsion has been declared as a cognisable offence and any group involved in issuing fatwa or diktats will be considered as Jaat Panchayat. As per this Act, announcing fine, boycotting a person and violating rights of a person guaranteed by the Indian Constitution will be considered as a cognisable offence.
This Act empowers district collectors to stop community courts from taking place.
The Act requires a social boycott officer to be appointed and his scope of duties has also been defined under this Act. MANS which was following up this issue has expressed satisfaction and said that with this Act in place, there will be stringent action taken against the culprits exploiting people under the guise of diktats issued by Jaat Panchayat.
Clearing the bill
The bill was pending before the President for his consent. MANS followed up with Union government for President’s consent on the bill.
After getting a no objection certificate from six ministries, the bill was submitted to the President for his consent.
Recently, the State government law and justice department has published it in the gazette, announced Executive President of MANS Avinash Patil and State Secretary Krishna Chandgude.
Jaat panchayat’s pressure
Chandgude said that MANS was compelled to strengthen its campaign against Jaat Panchayat after a case of honour killing was reported in Nashik. He added that a father was forced to murder his own daughter after Jaat Panchayat pressurised him to act against his daughter for marrying outside the community. MANS soon launched its Jaat Panchayat abolition campaign and several meetings were held in Nashik, Latur, Jalgaon, Mahad and Pune.
“Till four years ago, the police did not know what section to apply if they come across the case of exploitation by Jaat Panchayat,” he said.
However, then the State government of Maharashtra issued a notification asking the police to slap section 153(a). Chandgude added that this notification did not do any good, as per this section, the police had to take permission from home and law department before registering an offence. This resulted in giving time to culprits to terrorise the victims.
Victory for Gawli
Bhagwan Gawli (47), a real estate professional from Pune who had to suffer from social boycott for 20 years from Jaat Panchayat members of Lingayat Gawli community who did not allow him to meet his parents and other relatives for marrying outside the community, heaved a sigh of relief.
Gawli said due to efforts of MANS members, he was allowed to meet his parents.
He expressed gratitude towards slain reformer leader Dr Narendra Dabholkar, who led a campaign for the abolition of Jaat Panchayat.