Maharashtra became the first state to pass such legislation in multicultural and secular India, where witch doctors and Hindu holy men enjoy huge popularity and can amass millions in contributions or fees for promised miracles and health cures.

Once the bill is signed by the governor, police will be able to investigate religious fraud, extremism and human sacrifice. Activists said they'd like to see such legislation passed nationwide.

"This is great news," said activist Deepak Girme of the Maharashtra Blind Faith Eradication Committee. "A lot of awareness has been raised about the fact that this superstitious mindset still exists among the poor, who are often illiterate and uneducated."