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Breaking: Bombay High Court Bans Propagation For Sales Of Item Claiming Miraculous or Supernatural Powers via Television Advertisement 

Sparsh Upadhyay
6 Jan 2021 8:43 AM GMT
Breaking: Bombay High Court Bans Propagation For Sales Of Item Claiming Miraculous or Supernatural Powers via Television Advertisement 
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In an important ruling, the Bombay High Court (Aurangabad Bench) on Tuesday (05th January) held that the sale of items, claiming that they possess miraculous or supernatural powers via television advertisement is illegal. The bench of Justice Tanaji Nalawade and Justice Mukund Sewlikar has also held that the TV channel, telecasting such advertisement, would be liable under the...

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In an important ruling, the Bombay High Court (Aurangabad Bench) on Tuesday (05th January) held that the sale of items, claiming that they possess miraculous or supernatural powers via television advertisement is illegal.

The bench of Justice Tanaji Nalawade and Justice Mukund Sewlikar has also held that the TV channel, telecasting such advertisement, would be liable under the provisions of the Maharashtra Prevention and Eradication of Human Sacrifice and other Inhuman, Evil and Aghori Practices and Black Magic Act, 2013.

The Bench has also directed the State to register crimes by giving reports against the persons, who are making such advertisement and who are selling such articles.

The matter before the Court

The petition sought prevention of the telecast of advertisement on TV channels by which there was promotion of sale of articles like Hanuman Chalisa Yantra.

The Petitioner, through his plea, stated that he came across advertisements on TV channels which were propagating that there were special, miraculous and supernatural properties/qualities in Hanuman Chalisa Yantra, which the advertiser was selling.

The Plea stated that the purpose of the advertisement was to promote the sale of said Yantra an it was contended that this was a false propaganda and the propaganda was made to exploit the persons, who are superstitious by nature and to exploit them.

It was contended in the petition that there was a false propaganda that the Yantra was prepared by one Baba Mangalnath, who had achieved Siddhi (ability to do anything).

It was contended that false propaganda was made that said Baba had blessings of Lord Hanuman and it was stated in the advertisement that bringing Yantra to home was like bringing Lord Hanuman himself to home and one, who was using it was feeling that Lord Hanuman was with him and Lord Hanuman was giving every kind of protection to him.

It was contended that the celebrities like Manoj Kumar (the then renowned film producer, writer, director, actor), Anuradha Paudwal (singer) and Anup Jalota (singer) were shown in the advertisement and their experiences were quoted that they had received benefits and they had experienced miracles by using the aforesaid Yantra.

Indore-based Telemart Shopping Network Pvt Ltd/Seller, on the other hand argued that the ads neither fell within the ambit of the Black Magic Act nor under the Television Networks Act.

Court's Observations

The Bench perused Section 3 of the Black Magic Act, and remarked that it was easy to infer that extracting money from the people by selling articles like Hanuman Chalisa Yantra, which is like a pendant, was covered by the said Section.

[NOTE: Section 3 (1) of the Act states – No person shall either himself or through any other person commit, promote, propagate or practice or cause to promote, propagate or practice human sacrifice and other inhuman, evil and aghori practices and black magic mentioned or described in the Schedule appended to this Act.]

The Court noted that the qualities or properties of the Yantra mentioned in the advertisement, showed that claim was made about its qualities, which are special, miraculous and supernatural.

The Court also said that the seller couldn't prove that Yantra really has the properties or qualities of which advertisement was made.

This Court further held

"The claim of the seller like after achieving Siddhi, special power, the 'Baba' has created Yantra leads to inference that the seller claims that the Baba has power of 'black' magic. Entry No.2 of the Schedule of the Black Magic Act , shows that display of so-called miracles for earning money is covered by the Act. It is already mentioned that in the advertisement the experiences of many celebrities and other persons were published and that amounts to display of such miracles."

[NOTE: Entry No.2 in the Schedule given to Black Magic Act runs as under:

[(2) Display of so-called miracles by a person and thereby earning money; and to deceive, defraud and terrorize people by propagation and circulation of so-called miracles.]

Entry at item 11(a) is also relevant and it is as under:

[(11) (a) To create an impression that special supernatural powers are present in himself, incarnation of another person or holy spirit or that the devotee was his wife, husband or paramour in the past birth, thereby indulging into sexual activity with such person.]

It may be noted that Section 3 of the Black Magic Act prohibits not only commission of act of black magic, evil practices etc., but also propagation, promotion of such practices and magic, whereas, Section 3(2) of the Act shows that abetment of such propaganda is also an offence.

In this backdrop, the Court held

"Thus, TV channels, which telecast such advertisement also become liable under Section 3 of the Black Magic Act."

"Duty to Develop Scientific Temper"

Quoting the fundamental duty to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry, the Court said that the reformist like Mahatma Phule, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and others, who worked to remove evil practices and spread awareness against superstition in the society were born in this soil.

The Court remarked,

"It can be said that atleast basic education is available to everybody in this State. Though these things are there, the scientific temper and the spirit of inquiry and reform are not yet developed. Even many educated and highly educated persons get attracted to the things like mantra-tantra, black magic."

Further, the Court said

"Due to this superstitious approach of rich and poor, the educated and uneducated persons they are being exploited by so-called Babas by selling articles by giving them names like Yantra, Ganda etc. Due to such situation, even in the State like Maharashtra, which claims to be a progressive State and State of reformist, the Black Magic Act was required to be enacted."

Court's Order

The Court held that the acts of Respondent No.11 (Telemart Shopping Network Pvt. Ltd.,/Seller) and similar acts would amount to cheating also and so at any costs such things need to be prevented.

The Court also held that the relief of declaration and injunction was needed to be given in the present proceeding, but the Court clarified that the relief would be mainly for enforcing the Black Magic Act.

Direction issued by the Court

  • The propagation for sale by advertisement of any article by giving it name as Yantra or otherwise, by attaching the name of any God to such article including the name of Lord Hanuman or any Baba with representation that these articles have special, miraculous and supernatural properties/qualities and making representation that these articles will help human being to become happy, to make progress in business, to make progress in profession, to make advancement in career, to make improvement in performance in education, to get recovery from any disease etc., is illegal and such propagation, advertisement falls under Section 3 of the Maharashtra Black Magic Act, 2013.
  • The telecast of advertisement, which propagates the things mentioned ABOVE is illegal.
  • State and the Vigilance Officers appointed under the Maharashtra Black Magic Act, 2013, have been directed to register crimes by giving reports against the persons, who are making such advertisement and who are selling such articles.
  • State Government and the Central Government have been directed to create Cells in Mumbai to see that no such advertisements are telecast on TV channels by separate advertisement or in the name of programmes in the State of Maharashtra.
  • The State Government has also been directed to see that the telecast of such advertisement on TV channels is stopped immediately in coordination with the authority created by the Central Government under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.
  • If such authority is not in place, the Central Government has been asked to appoint such authority within one month and if such authority is not appointed within this period, the State Government has been made entitled to use the provisions of the Maharashtra Black Magic Act, 2013 for stopping the telecast of such advertisement.
  • The State Government and the Central Government to inform this Court within 30 days from the date of this judgment about the steps taken to implement this judgment.

Case Title - Rajendra v. UOI and others [Criminal Writ Petition No. 469 Of 2015

Click Here To Download Order

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