Maharashtra is set to become the first state in the country to criminalise social boycott, reported PTI. The state Assembly on Wednesday passed the Prohibition of Social Boycott Bill, which makes it illegal for local panchayats to persecute individuals or their families based on their caste or community. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said the existing laws were inadequate to deal with such social evils and a new legislation was required that would treat social boycott as a crime.

According to the new law, anyone found indulging in social boycott can be jailed for up to seven years or fined up to Rs 5 lakh, or both. For such offences, the accused will be considered guilty by the law unless proven otherwise. It also states that the trial in such cases should be completed within six months from the date of filing a formal complaint. The state cabinet had approved the draft bill on March 1.