Witch hunting is the most dehumanising act and is one of the worst forms of human rights violations, the Bench said.
Taking note of the prevalence of the inhuman and barbaric practice of witch hunting in Assam and other North-East states, the Gauhati High Court has observed that branding of a man or a woman as a witch and then resorting to witch hunting is the most dehumanising act and is one of the worst forms of human rights violations.
The division bench comprising Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice Paran Kumar Phukan made this observation while disposing of a criminal appeal filed by three persons accused of witch hunting, as a result of which two persons had been killed. The bench also observed that witch hunting as a socio-legal problem has to be confronted at multiple levels.
The court said: “As the name itself suggests, some people, mostly elderly women, are branded as witches and thereafter they are subjected to severe abuse in the name of ridding the society of such evil.”
Terming it a social menace, the bench observed: “Witch hunting as a phenomenon is not only confined to the State of Assam; it has affected large parts of the country. It is rooted in flawed quasi-religious beliefs, antiquated socio-cultural traditions blended with extreme superstitions practices.”
The court also observed that the Assam Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2015, is awaiting assent of the President of India.
The court, in this case, confirmed conviction of two accused and acquitted one giving him the benefit of doubt.