Bhubaneswar, Dec 5:
Under the provisions of the Bill, anyone branding a woman as a witch shall be awarded a maximum jail term of seven years with a fine.
Odisha is the the fourth state in the country to have passed such a bill.
Women branded as ‘witches’ have been killed, tonsured, sexually abused and put to physical torture punishment in the past not only in Odisha but in Jharkhand, Bihar, Haryana, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Assam and Andhra Pradesh.
While 31 women were killed in the state in 2010 for allegedly practicing witchcraft, as many as 39 and 35 women were murdered on similar grounds in 2011 and 2012 respectively, official sources said.
The bill also has provisions of penalty for witch doctors and people who practise black magic. Under the Bill, the punishment for such offence would be harsher for people who commit such crimes for the second time.
The Orissa High Court had, last year, asked the state government to go for a legislation to deal with such heinous crimes.