The Maharashtra Assembly on Wednesday passed the Prohibition of Social Boycott Bill, which seeks to crack down on extra-judicial bodies such as caste and community panchayats, becoming the first State to enact such a law.
The Bill provides for prohibition of social boycott of a person or group of persons, by an individual or a group like caste panchayat. The provisions of the law define social boycott as a cognisable, but bailable offence, and provide for an imprisonment of up to three years or Rs. 1 lakh fine or both.
The Cabinet had approved the draft Maharashtra Prohibition of Social Boycott Bill, 2016 on March 1, and the Bill was tabled in the lower house on Wednesday.
Addressing the house, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said despite being known as a progressive State, several incidents of social ostracism by caste panchayats were reported, and there was a persistent demand from several organisations for a new law.
The Chief Minister said the Bill had incorporated provisions that enabled preventive action against any possibility of a caste panchayat imposing a social boycott.
The legislation had provisions for disbursing the fine amount to the victims and their rehabilitation.