The move to bring forth a legislation against superstitious practices that prevail across the State, largely in some of the southern and coastal districts, has been put on hold by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. Nevertheless, preparations are in progress to draft a legislation that may see the light of day in the near future.
What started off in right earnest, largely to promote a rational environment and thinking, has now taken a political turn with the Chief Minister being caught in the crossfire, with even a section of the Congressmen ranged against the legislation. Mr. Siddaramaiah has quickly acted in putting to rest the political animosity that the proposed enactment was generating by stating that the bill will not be tabled in the coming session of the Karnataka Legislature scheduled to be held in Belgaum from November 25.
Critics of the Chief Minister largely view his latest statement as an attempt to buy time and win peace for the present since there is also a section which has been vehemently demanding that the government of the day bring forth a legislation which can curb superstitious practices. Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs T.B. Jayachandra told The Hindu that it is for the Department of Social Welfare to make the first move in preparing a detailed note and thereafter place it before the State Cabinet for approval. It should be noted that the proposed bill has raised much dust even before those in the government who are engaged in drafting the bill have commenced their work. If the State unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has said that it is sternly opposed to the bill and that it will not allow it to be tabled in the legislature, the president of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee G. Parameshwara has said the bill has not been discussed in the party forum. In other words, he has said the bill can be taken up by the government only after it is cleared by the party.
It was the visit of Mr. Siddaramaiah to the Chamarajanagar district adjoining Mysore which is believed to have set afloat the need for a legislation against black magic and such practices, given the fact that it is rampant in certain pockets of Chamarajanagar.
There are, however, several enactments, including in Karnataka, where some of the superstitious practices are banned.
All that is now required is a strict enforcement of the law and a new bill, if at all, may be required only to add to the existing strength.