The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government to register offences against four TV channels for telecasting an advertisement promoting “Hanuman Chalisa Yantra”. The court stated that television channels telecasting advertisements promoting superstitious material are liable to face action under the provisions of the Black Magic Act.
The ruling was given by the division bench of justices TV Nalawade and MG Sewlikar, who deemed telecasting of such advertisements illegal and punishable under provisions of the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013.
Citing the Section 3 of the Black Magic Act, the division bench stated that not only does the Section prohibit the acts of black magic, evil practices, etc., but it also bans the propagation and promotion of such practices and magic. Under Section 3(2) of the Act, abetment of such activities is also an offence, the bench said, adding TV channels that telecast advertisements (promoting superstitious material) therefore become liable under Section 3 of the Black Magic Act.
The court observed that it is the fundamental duty of every citizen to develop a scientific temperament and this spirit of inquiry and reform must be read into the Black Magic Act.
“It can be argued that basic education is available to everybody in the state, the scientific temper and the spirit of inquiry and reform are not yet developed. Even the highly qualified and educated are attracted to the mantra-tantra, black magic,” the bench said, stating that this has emboldened the charlatans, who sell articles by giving them tempting names such as Yantra, Ganda etc. and boast of their miraculous qualities.
“Extracting money by selling articles like Hanuman Chalisa Yantra, which is like a pendant, is covered by the provisions of the Black Magic Act. The properties of this Yantra mentioned in the advertisement claim that it is special, miraculous and supernatural. This court has no hesitation to hold that it is not possible for the seller to prove that such a Yantra really has any such qualities,” the judgment read.
Writ petition filed by Rajendra Ambhore sought action against TV channels and actors promoting “yantras”
The bench was hearing a writ petition filed by Rajendra Ambhore, a teacher from Aurangabad, seeking a declaration that the telecast of advertisements hard-selling talismans be deemed illegal and attract the provisions of the Black Magic Act. Ambhore stated that advertisements being broadcasted on several channels promoted certain “yantras” in the names of Gods and Godmen, befooling people to buy the articles claiming that they possessed miraculous supernatural powers and helped people get rid of almost all kinds of problems and fulfil their wishes and bring them prosperity.
The plea took exception to the ads on at least 4 TV channels that showed a ‘Hanuman Chalisa Yantra’, which the makers claimed had supernatural powers and, if purchased, would make the wearer rich. It sought action against not just the advertisers, but also against the TV channels and the actors who endorsed the allegedly fake claims by stating that they had experienced the supernatural powers of the “yantra”.
Responding to the petition, the advertiser, Telemart Shopping Network Pvt. Ltd., asserted that the rituals mentioned in their advertisements were regular Hindu Vedic practices and could not be termed as black magic practices. The company further added that the petitioner bought one such “yantra” and immediately sent representations to various central and state authorities because he was dissatisfied with the product.
The argument, however, failed to strike a chord with the division bench. The court scrutinised the provisions of the Black Magic Act and ordered that not only the advertisers of such products but the channels promoting them through advertisements were also liable to fact actions under the relevant provisions of the Black Magic Act.