Indian President Pranab Mukherjee cleared legislation making social boycott a crime in Maharashtra. Photo: Financial Express

Declaring social boycott a crime, Maharashtra has become the first Indian state to introduce judicial legislation aimed at preventing extra-judicial courts and caste panchayats from committing atrocities, according to reports.

After President Pranab Mukherjee cleared the legislation, the Maharashtra government published the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Act, which stipulates a fine of Rs1 lakh (US$1,500) and a maximum punishment of three years in jail, the Hindustan Times reported.

Sudhir Shrivastava, additional chief secretary for home affairs, told the Hindustan Times, “The act has been cleared by the central government. We are in the process of issuing a notification.”

The bill was cleared by the state legislature in April and forwarded by the central government to the president for his assent.

The Hindu reported that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis claimed that the act would address the problem of social boycott with an “iron hand.”

According to the act, any organization that delivers a judgment or issues fatwas based on caste would be viewed as a caste panchayat, which is a caste-specific jury of elders, even if unregistered.