Assam Healing (Prevention of Evil) Practices Bill, 2024, Passed Amidst Controversy

Guwahati, 26th February: On the final day of the budget session, the Assam Healing (Prevention of Evil) Practices Bill, 2024, was passed, aiming to curtail traditional healing practices with ulterior motives. The legislation intends to raise awareness about scientifically backed health information to safeguard against practices exploiting ignorance and endangering public health.

The bill targets the eradication of non-scientific therapeutic techniques that exploit individuals, prohibiting false claims of curing diseases or health conditions through healing practices. Additionally, it bars advertisements promoting medicines or remedies with such false claims.

Under the bill’s provisions, offences are cognizable and non-bailable, carrying penalties of imprisonment ranging from one to three years and fines up to Rs 50,000 for initial violations. Subsequent convictions may lead to imprisonment for up to five years and fines up to Rs 1 lakh.

Congress leader Debabrata Saikia expressed concerns over the lack of clarity in defining ‘evil practices,’ suggesting potential implications for Assam’s diverse traditional healing practices. He cautioned against perceived attempts to impose a uniform civil code, a sentiment echoed by other legislators.

In response, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma clarified that the bill aimed to prevent exploitation rather than banning traditional healing practices outright. He emphasized the legislation’s disconnect from the uniform civil code agenda.

While the assembly passed 14 other bills, including measures against unfair practices in government job recruitments, the expected legislation to ban polygamy was notably absent. Furthermore, discussions on repealing the Assam Moslem Marriage and Divorce Registration Act, 1935, did not result in any proposed legislation.

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