Our Constitution gives us freedom to profess the religion of our choice, to marry a person of our choice. It ensures equality and liberty and if someone is tries to snatch it away from us illegally, we are absolutely free to raise our voice against it and knock the door of judiciary to protect our rights.
One of the most powerful weapon for social change is moral suasion. In the nineteenth century, individualist anarchists experimented with various strategies that hinged on using psychological pressure to affect change.

One of these strategies was the “social boycott” aimed at eliminating destructive elements from organisations or from society itself, as said by Wendy McElory, Social boycott is the shunning of a person — a society’s collective refusal to engage in the normal social and commercial relations that make life palatable and, in some cases, possible for an individual.

Its goal is to make that individual so uncomfortable that he decides to voluntarily leave the society. But, instead of taking it as a positive measure to eliminate the dirt of the society, we have started using it in a completely opposite manner.

Sadly, in our country it has been deployed against the deprived sections of the society. What is worse is to know that this policy of ostracism is not prevalent in villages or small tows only but in cities as well. social boycott against Dalits, inter-caste couples, families of rape survivors, etc. is quiet common even today. In August 2016, Arun Naikuji, a 48-yearold man killed himself in Pune in Maharashtra after a ‘jaat’ panchayat socially ostracised him and his family. Naikuji and his family were boycotted because his brother helped his friend marry a girl from another caste, as reported by

The quint on 17 July, 2017. In order to curb this issue, the Maharashtra govt. has passed a law which got the President Pranab Mukherjee’s assent in July, 2017 only called, Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016. Under the act, social boycott is a punishable offence which includes fine up to Rs 1 lakh and imprisonment up to three years. The law has provision of a speedy trial within six months. The government will have to appoint a social boycott provision officer who will assist the police and the judiciary to track social boycott cases. The Act also makes provisions for six month long speedy trials.

It also asks the state government to appoint a Social Boycott Prohibition officers to ‘assist the police and magistrate’ and track cases of social boycott. On July 17, eleven members of Telgu Madelwar Parit community lodged the first FIR under the new act in Pune. The complainants had alleged that they had been boycotted from the community’s caste council for carrying out inter-caste marriages, as reported by the Indian Express, 23, July. Rekha Indurkar, 40, homemaker and one of the complainant, said, “I belong to the Jain Marwadi community while my husband is from the Telugu Parit community. We married in 1996. But the caste council of the Telugu Parit community boycotted us from the caste. The council made sure that nobody from the caste would invite us for festivals, social programs and even for the last rites of the community members. We have been going through mental torture for the last 20 years, and don’t want our kids to know about it or suffer due to this practice”.

Fifty-one- year-old Umesh Rudrapa, an auto driver and another complainant in the case, said, “We had requested the council to take us back in the caste as our kids are grown up. They need to be married off, and we have to find matches from the community. But the members did not pay attention. We had no option but to approach the police. But, earlier the police didn’t file any complaint due to a lack of law. When we came to know that the act has been forced, we decided to lodge FIR. We want the members to dissolve the council. They should listen instead of getting tried under the law.” As reported by firstpost, July, 20. Maharashtra is the first and only state in India to enact a law preventing social boycott by caste councils. It’s not like Maharashtra is the only state where such practices are followed. Social boycott has been used as deadly weapon in almost every state of our country. Hundreds or maybe thousands are suffering because of this rejection from society, only because they decided not to follow some community or regional norms or many a times because somebody else didn’t follow the rule. Punishing someone because he or she got married to a person who is not of the same religion or caste or for not wearing certain types of clothes, or for being a Dalit or for being a rape victim, is abominable.

Our Constitution gives us freedom to profess the religion of our choice, to marry a person of our choice. It ensures equality and liberty and if someone is tries to snatch it away from us illegally, we are absolutely free to raise our voice against it and knock the door of judiciary to protect our rights. Maharashtra government has set an example for other states of our country. As said by Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, “progressive state like Maharashtra” cannot allow social evils in the garb of caste panchayat diktats or rituals.” This is a progressive step towards a society which will be free from discrimination on the basis of morality or political inclination or sexuality. And it’s the time when we should understand that with change in time the laws and the policies should also be changed in order to make our society a better, peaceful and progressive place to dwell in.

By Amirah Rizvi