top of page

Ritual killing for quick money and Personal Prosperity: Black Magic savagery in India

Law Centrum

13 Oct 2022

Black magic and such superstitious activities are not covered by the Indian Penal Code's (IPC) provisions, which makes them ineffective in dealing with such offences.

Killing of humans in a ceremonial ritual of sacrifice and the subsequent wearing, burying or eating of body parts, are thought to bring business success, increase fortune or power. Human sacrifice is a form of violence both physical and mental. It is not considered a universal concern, but is rooted in the cultural and social practices of specific world regions. These types of cases were only recorded episodically, but they remain alarming since they only represent reported cases and actual number may be larger [1].

Human Sacrifice is performed in order maintain good relation with the gods. This is a widely known phenomenon all over the world, involving food, animals and other products. However, in certain circumstances, humans are the subject of sacrifice.

Human sacrifice is defined as “the harmful practice of removing a child’s body parts, blood or tissue while the human is alive”. These can be worn, buried or consumed by an individual, who believes the practice will bring them wealth, good fortune, and blessings from ancestors. Sacrifice requires blood and certain body parts, including organs, limbs, genitals, eyes, teeth, fingers, the tongue or the heart [2]. The process of removing these body parts often happens while the human is still alive. The parts will then be used in medicines or mixed with herbs. Both male and female are attacked for their body parts; there is no clear gender preference [3]. The sacrificial ritual is not revealed until the body or the remains are found in a deserted area. There have been reports of human sacrifice recently in various places of India.

Witchcraft and Ritual killing

Witchcraft is the practise of seeking to invoke magical power or the practice of performing it. However, not all forms of witchcraft are viewed evil. Witchcraft can be used to ensure virility, protect against the evil eye, and ensure plenty of rain. Many communities in India practise the occult arts known as Daayan or Churel, and because of the widespread fear of these practises, people who are thought to be practitioners are frequently killed. [4]. Ritual killings occur in order to obtain human body parts for use in rituals. People who are accused of witchcraft could be subjected to acts which are so terrible that they constitute persecution. Madhya Pradesh is the second-highest state for killings due to witchcraft after Chattishgarh, according to 2019 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. Together, the states of Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Odisha—all of which have sizable Adivasi populations—recorded 88 killings that were believed to be the result of witchcraft.

Black magic and law in India

Article 25 of Indian Constitution guarantees the freedom of conscience, the freedom to profess, practice, and propagate religion to all citizens. However, such freedom is subject to public order, health, and morality. Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that everyone has the right to have or adopt a religious faith or belief and manifest “worship, observance, practice and teaching” in public or in private, provided such rights are subject to limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health, or morals or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

The eight states that have passed laws to deal with situations involving superstition and mystic practises are Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Assam, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. However, the penalties imposed vary among states. The first state in the nation to prohibit labelling and harassing women as witches was Bihar in 1999. It is referred to as the Prevention of Witch (Witch) Practice Act, 1999. Jharkhand adopted the Prevention of Witch (witchcraft) Practice Act, 1999. In Chhattisgarh, the Tonahi Pratadna Nivaran Act in 2015 is in effect. In Odisha, the Prevention of Witch-Hunting Act 2013 is in force. In Rajasthan, the Prevention of Witch-Hunting Act 2015. The Witch Hunting (Prohibition, Prevention, Protection) Act 2015 is prevailing in assam.  In Maharashtra, Prevention And Eradication Of Human Sacrifice And Other In Human, Evil And Aghori Practices And Black Magic Act, 2013 is in place. In Karnataka, anti-superstition legislation is introduced in 2020.

A bill to outlaw sorcery and black magic was reportedly introduced in Kerala in 2019 but has not yet been passed. The Kerala Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices, Sorcery, and Black Magic Bill is a draft law that seeks to outlaw evil activities that cause bodily pain and mental anguish while sparing the majority of "harmless" religious practises. It was turned in as a draft in October 2021. It suggests outlawing acts such as cheek piercing with arrows or iron rods and forbidding a person from receiving medical care while providing solace through "mantra-tantra or singing prayers."

The violent killings of two middle-aged women in Elanthoor village have yet again brought to light the obscene customs that are still practised in the country.


Due to lack of reliable data and thorough research, the real scope of the spread of child sacrifice is not yet visible. But is expected to be far more widespread in the Indian society. In the absence of legislation, it is the duty of states to prevent, punish, investigate and provide remedies for harm caused by beliefs in witchcraft and the use of witchcraft in the commission of crimes.

Black magic and such superstitious activities are not covered by the Indian Penal Code's (IPC) provisions, which makes them ineffective in dealing with such offences. The Indian Penal Code (IPC) only recognises human sacrifice after the murder has been committed. Often judicial systems do not act to prevent, investigate or prosecute human rights abuses linked to beliefs in witchcraft. This institutional failure perpetuates impunity [5].


[1] UNODC, global report on trafficking in persons, UN. GIFT, Feb 2009

[2] Concept Note & Preliminary Data, Elimination of Harmful Practices: Accusations of Witchcraft and Ritual attacks, March 2020. Available at:

[3] KidsRights Report, No Small Sacrifice, Leiden University. Available at:


[5] OHCHR, Witchcraft and Human Rights. Available at:




bottom of page