In a bizarre move, the Rajasthan government has decided to revive and implement a 1960 law pertaining to Mrityubhoj (Hindu ritual of serving food on the 13th day after the death of a person). An order issued by the Rajasthan police cites that stringent action would be taken against the panchayat, sarpanch, and patwari (government official) for failure to report instances of such feasts.
मृत्युभोज निषेध ? है एवं कानूनन दंडनीय।
न मृत्युभोज का आयोजन करें व न ही उसमें शामिल होवें।
— Rajasthan Police (@PoliceRajasthan) July 8, 2020
As per reports Crime branch DIG, Kishan Sahai has issued strict orders to all SPs (Superintendent of Police) to ensure compliance with the law and take strict action against officials in case of failure.
Mrityubhoj Prevention Act was enacted in 1960 and according to its provisions offenders are liable to a fine of rupees 1000 and up to one year in jail. Section 3 of the Act says that no one is permitted to arrange for or participate in Mrityubhoj.
Sahai has said “the law relating to Mrityubhoj was already in existence. We are merely ensuring its enforcement now”. He further stated that if anyone enters into an agreement or indenture to borrow money for Mrityubhoj then there are no provisions to deal with it under the Agreement Act.
The justification given for implementing the law during these pandemic times is that it imposes a financial burden on people. The middle class and poor citizens have to bear the maximum brunt of this custom. Many become debtors for life or are forced to sell their properties.
Hence, the government enacted the law in 1960 so that people can be saved from financial burden. Considering the fact that during these times of the Chinese Virus pandemic people are already facing financial problems, the government has decided to implement the law strictly.
The moot question is whether the government should be allowed to interfere in a custom that people voluntarily follow. Customs and rituals are for society and its adherents to decide and just like the government would not interfere in the affairs of minorities, it shouldn’t make decisions on behalf of majorities too.
(Featured Image Source: Dainik Bhaskar)
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