Laws and Commissions [Devadasi]

Some of the states where the Devadasi practice is going on, Governments tried to eradicate it through state laws like the Bombay Devadasi Protection Act, 1934, which states that "the performance of any ceremony intended to dedicate or having the effect of dedicating of women as a devadasi where such women have or has not consented to performance of such ceremony, is hereby declared unlawful and to be an effect to any custom or rule to the contrary notwithstanding".



This law also declared the marriage of devadasi valid and children of such marriages as legitimate. [Jogan Shankar, p. 153] the Prohibition of Dedication act 1982 of Karnataka and Rules 1987, Amendment to the Act-2009 whereby ‘practice, coercion and planning’ are non-bailable and cognizable offences; the Andhra Pradesh Devadasis (Prohibition of dedication Act, 1988 and Madras Devadasi (Prohibition of dedication) Act, 1947.
A one-man commission headed by a former judge, Justice Raghunath Rao, was appointed by the undivided AP government by the then chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy on the direction of the Supreme Court, responding to a PIL. From its study of AP and Telengana, it found that the age-old social menace is prevalent in almost every district in both the states. The commission submitted the report on Devadasis recently stating that about 80,000 women still follow the system in these two states. The tradition is more rampant in areas of Telengana and Rayalseema. Also, the Chief Minister of Karnataka had to appoint a committee to investigate whether "Nagna-puja" has any religious sanction of Hindu sastras. The report was submitted in 1988 stating that there is no such sanction of Hinduism. In 1992 ban was imposed on this "Nagna-puja". There was a hue and cry against it, but since then it has stopped being a public ceremony.
The National Commission for Women had convened a meeting with women commissions of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, AP and Telangana where they discussed the Devadasi system and how to curb it. They suggested that the Centre should come out with a legislation banning Davadasis.

Mayank Rai

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