The Maharashtra Assembly yesterday unanimously approved the Prohibition of Social Boycott Bill, which seeks to crack down on extra-judicial bodies like caste and community panchayats, and prescribes a maximum punishment of three years in jail.

The Bill, “to provide for prohibition of social boycott of a person or group of persons including their family members and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto” was passed on the last day of the Budget session yesterday. It is yet to be passed by the Legislative Council.

“There was a demand that the existing laws were inadequate to deal with social boycott cases and a new legislation was needed,” Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said during the debate on the bill.

‘Happy with support’
“In this bill, we have treated indulging in social boycott as a crime,” the Chief Minister said, adding that he was happy it got the support of all the members.

The legislation provides for the prohibition of social boycott of a person or group of persons, including their family members, by an individual or a group like caste panchayat. Maharashtra is the first state in the country to introduce a bill against social boycott.

As per the bill, the offence of imposing social boycott will attract maximum punishment of 3 years in prison or a fine up to Rs 1 lakh or both.

The abetment of the offence also attracts the same punishment and fine. ‘Social Boycott Prohibition Officers’ will be appointed to detect the commission of offences under the Act.