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Maharashtra has become the first Indian state to criminalize social boycott. The Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016, prescribes up to three years in jail and maximum fine of Rs. 1 L. The law was passed by the assembly in May'16. The president gave assent on June 20. This gives life to the initiative by late rationalist Narendra Dabholkar.

With the President of India giving assent to the Maharashtra Prohibition of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016, Maharashtra has become the first state in the country to bring a law making social boycott a crime.

The movement, initiated by late Narendra Dabholkar, gained momentum after he was shot dead and the Maharashtra legislature passed the law unanimously in 2016.

It was pending with the central government for the President's nod. The President gave the assent on June 20, 2017.

Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti (MANS) executive president Avinash Patil said the President has signed the law following which the state published it in the gazette.

"The state government forwarded the Bill to the Centre on May 7, 2016. It needed clearances from six central ministries and a nod from the President. After the process was completed, the state government's law and justice department published it in the gazette on July 3, 2017.

Now, the law will be implemented," said Patil, adding that MANS had prepared a draft and submitted it to the state in 2015.

The new law proposes action against extra-judicial bodies like jat (caste) and community panchayats, and prescribes a maximum punishment of three years in jail. As per the law, the offence of imposing social boycott will attract a maximum punishment of 3 years in prison or a fine up to Rs 1 lakh or both.

The abetment of the offence also attracts the same punishment and fine.Mukta Dabholkar, daughter of late Narendra Dabholkar and a MANS member, told TOI, "MANS will now plan a strategy for effective execution of the law. It was a long struggle ... and we received a major setback after Dabholkar's killing. But MANS was determined to bring this law considering atrocities carried out in the name of caste".