To Understand the Khap Panchayat Verdict Of the Supreme Court, it is important to understand What is Khap Panchayat? Khap Panchayat is the union of a few villages, mainly in the northwest (Maharashtra, Chennai, Madhya Pradesh, Malwa, Rajasthan, Sindh, Mukan, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh). India though it exists in similar forms in rest of the countries.
These are social-political groups, which usually comprise the upper caste and elderly men from the Jat community, which are united by geography and caste. They consolidate their position and power covering an area comprising a cluster of villages and setting rules. These are social institutions are not sanctioned under the law and have no legal status.
Lately, they have emerged as quasi-judicial bodies that pronounce harsh punishments based on Khap Panchayats are community groups which at times act as quasi-judicial bodies and pronounce harsh punishments based on age-old customs. Several cases of women and men falling victim to khap diktats have been reported over the years, particularly in age-old customs and traditions, often bordering on regressive measures to modern problems. The principle of natural justice is hardly observed.
Social boycotts and fines are the major tools for implementing the orders of Khap Panchayats. Khap panchayats frequently make pronouncements on social issues, such as abortion, alcohol abuse, dowry, and to promote education, especially among girls.
Introduction of Khap Panchayat Verdict
A petition was filed in the Supreme Court by NGO Shakti Vahini against khap panchayats, seeking directions to the center and state governments for preventing honor crimes. The center had also urged the court to put in place a mechanism to monitor crimes against women by khap panchayats. Now, the Supreme Court has ruled that Khap panchayats have no right to interfere in any marriage.
What are Khap Panchayats?
Khap panchayats are caste or community organizations in rural parts of western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan, and certain other parts of India. They at times act as quasi-judicial bodies and pronounce harsh punishments based on customs and traditions. Khap panchayats are mostly run by male village elders.
They have considerable influence in rural north India. have also been blamed for ordering serious crimes, including the so-called ” honor killing of couples who marry outside caste or religion. Critics accuse them of acting like kangaroo courts Political leaders view communities as a vote – banks and khap leaders as the key actors which can swing the community’s votes.
Khaps interference in the freedom of youths
There were reports about the Khap in UP ordering the ban on women using mobile phones in public in an attempt to restrict their contact with men. Such orders are against the constitution and curb the freedom of women There were 291 honor killings in India between 2014 and 2016, as per data from the National Crime Records Bureau Often the perpetrators are relatives seeking to punish young couples for bringing ” shame ” to the family. So there is a need for creating awareness among traditional communities through education.
Events that bring Khaps into Limelight:-
1. Honour Killings,
2. Forced Marriages.
Favours with the Khap Panchayat, (why khap panchayat gives the judgment at their own)
Many people from the village support these Khaps because of their efficiency in delivering the verdict in a single sitting as against court cases which linger on for years. These people possess undeniable faith in the decisions of Khap, since everything is cross-checked to endure there is neutrality in decisions, and so they can survive from courts where innocent people become subject to harassment of the police sometimes. states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
Why did the Court Intervene?
To check growing instances of honor killing taking place in the name of caste and religion. To protect the dignity of all citizens, particularly women. Such crimes are also in violation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women which provide that women should have the right to freely choose a spouse to protect individual liberty, right of association, and the right of adults to choose their own partners in marriage.
Supreme Court Verdict in Khap Panchayat Verdict
The judgment came on a petition filed by NGO Shakti Vahini to curb honour crimes. Public interest litigation – Public Interest Litigation is directly filed by an individual group of people in the Supreme Court. Supreme Court Verdict of Honour Killing- Supreme Court in its recent verdict has upheld the choice of consenting adults to love and marry as a part of their fundamental rights.
The Supreme Court in the Khap Panchayat Verdict declared it was illegal for parents or khap panchayats to interfere in decisions of adult men and women of different castes to marry attacking adults in inter-caste or inter-faith marriages in the name of being ” conscience keepers of society is absolutely illegal.
Any adult man or woman can marry anyone of their own choice Under the law when two people are many, no third party can interfere in an individual or collective capacity. If the center failed to take steps to stop such interference. Customs were not above the human life and rights of persons concerned. Police should be held responsible for the protection of couples in such matters.
Whether a marriage is legally valid or not should be left for the courts to decide The SC also mentioned that solution for consanguineous marriages must be derived from counseling such couples rather than encouraging hostility against them.
The Supreme Court in Khap Panchayat Verdict held that every adult has the right to marry anyone and nobody including parents, khap panchayats, or similar associations can question their choice of spouse. It also held that any kind of attack and interference on such adults opting for marriage, especially inter-caste marriage as absolutely illegal.
The apex court asked Central Government to five its response to suggestions given by senior advocates on ways to prevent harassment and killing of young couples in name of family honour who opt for inter-caste marriages. It also issued strict directions to the government to control such attacks.
Notes Given By the Supreme Court at the time of Khap Panchayat Verdict
To highlight the terror inflicted on women, the Supreme Court gave a list of actions that trigger honour-based crimes.
i. loss of virginity outside marriage.
ii. Unapproved relationships.
iii. Refusing an arranged marriage.
iv. Asking for divorce.
V. Demanding custody of children after divorce.
Vi. Causing scandal or gossip in the community.
Vii. Even “falling victim to rape”.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A M Khanwilkar, and D Y Chandrachud also laid down a slew of measures to protect inter-faith and inter-caste marriages generally objected to by the Khap Panchayats. The court held that the consent of the family, community, or clan is not necessary for marriage.
Judicial Actions About the same verdicts
In Manoj and Babli Murder case, five of the seven convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Punjab and Haryana Hing Court. In Arumugam Servai vs State Of T.Nadu, Supreme Court said that Khaps are illegal and must be rooted/stamped out.
What Are The Court’s Observations On This
The apex court ridiculed the “elevated sense of honour” of elders. It observed honour killing that guillotines individual liberty, freedom of choice, and one’s own perception of choice.
What Are The Guidelines? At the Time Khap panchayat Verdict
The state governments should identify districts, sub-divisions, and/or villages concerned. These are areas where instances of honour killing or assembly of Khap Panchayats have been reported in the last 5 years.
Police- Officer-in-charge of the Police stations of the identified areas needs to be cautious. Any instance of inter-caste or inter-religious marriage within their jurisdiction that comes to their notice should be taken care of. They should inform the immediate superior officer. A
lso, the jurisdictional deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and superintendent of Police should be intimated. Security- Immediate steps should be taken to provide security to the couple/family. If necessary, steps to move them to a safe nouse within the same district or elsewhere should be taken.
The District Magistrate/Superintendent of Police must deal with the utmost sensitivity, the complaint regarding threat administered. Safe House- After the marriage, if the couple so desires, they can be provided accommodation on payment of nominal charges in the safe house. This would be for a period of one month to be extended on monthly basis but not exceeding one year in aggregate.
The decision would be taken depending on their threat assessment on a case-to-case basis. Case- The designated Court/Fast Track Court earmarked for the purpose will try criminal cases pertaining to honour killing or violence to the couple(s). The trial must proceed on a day-to-day basis. It must preferably be concluded within 6 months from the date of taking cognizance of the offense.
These special cells should create a 24-hour helpline to receive and register such complaints related to Khap Panchayat Verdict. They are also to provide necessary assistance/advice and protection to the couple.
Notes Given By Supreme Court At the Time Of Khap Panchayat Verdict
Hindu Marriage Act prohibits a union between ‘sapinda’ relationships or close blood relatives among Hindus. “We are on a very fundamental issue. The marriage is between two adults and it is their choice. You cannot take the law into your own hands. Khaps had no business in such matters.”
The court had said. “When two adults consensually choose each other as life partners, it is a manifestation of their choice which is recognized under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution”, held the court.