Fault in Khap Panchayats

Introduction

The caste system has been the basic institution in Hindu society. Indian society has been the victim of different shades of malice, one of which is the caste system. It is said that the caste system was structured with a goal of dividing society into four distinct groups relying upon the kind of their work. The Hindus have been primarily divided into Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishayas, and Shudras, with their sub castes.

 The castes and their sub-castes are very rigid in respect to their norms and rules. The violation of the same attracts punishment that is a boycott from the community. The western ideology has diversely influenced the present generation. Because of which individuals are eager to have love marriage or marry with people of their own choice, which results in inter caste marriages.

But, among a few castes , intercaste marriage is a grave offence, which not only results in boycott from the community but also amounts to death, by the members from their own family or “khap panchayats.” Among Indians, the rule of endogamy is followed, that is the rule restricting marriage among the members of the same tribe, village, sub caste or other social group.

 However, due to the expanding effect of the westernization, the standings are losing their unbending nature. Simultaneously, numerous communists accept that both the frameworks are working simultaneously.

The Advent of Khap Panchayat

While the introduction of the Khap Panchayats can be traced to the fourteenth century, a significant part of the clout they hold today originates from the dependence individuals placed on them during British Raj. Considerably after India disavowed the British, there was still sufficient space for the development of the Panchayati Raj, in a manner of speaking.

Khaps are customarily a gathering of villages organized by caste and geography. Village elders assemble regularly and form quasi judicial bodies to ponder upon day to day civil matters, for example, marriage, non-installment of obligation, property concerns and the non-recognition of social traditions explicit to that specific Khap.

There is largely no rule of law followed in handing out decisions or meting out punishments, the latter of which generally includes fines, flogging ostracizing errant members or harsher forms of corporal punishment. Justice is served according to the communal interest and according to the parochial values that shape the so-called honour of the village community.

Khap Panchayats are extra-constitutional and don’t fall in with the Gram Panchayat structure which depends on fairly led races and discovers established with help with the Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1996. While the rate of Khap Panchayats may discover some guard as far as being a speedier method for conveying equity or being all the more socially in line with the requirements of the individuals, Khap Panchayats have no judicial backing for their capacity.

By existing beyond the means of judicial hierarchy, Khap Panchayats have transformed into guard dogs of communal honor and custom, usually to the detriment of non dominant class of people who are routinely excluded from their narrative.Women, specifically, get themselves not just victimized by the inequality of the Khap Panchayati decision but also as unnecessary collateral to them

When Khap Panchayat’s pass orders on questions of marriage, fraternization or different decisions which are essentially libertarian in nature, they tilt the full weight of their social significance behind these decisions invalidating any similarity to decision, freedom or self-governance that women

Derogatory Practices of Khap Panchayats

A khap panchayat imposes its writ through a combination of social boycott, fines and, in a few cases, either killing or compelling the casualties to commit suicide. The northern state of Haryana has seen the most outrageous instances of gendered ‘honour’ killings, however different states, for example, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, have likewise seen comparable frequencies. Haryana is second in the nation in connection to high per capita income but lowest in relation to gender equality and sex ratio, the highest female foeticide, female infanticide and more recently, khap authorized killings.

The functioning of Khap Panchayats can be analyzed by studying the various feudal practices which they impose especially on women and girls. These are as following:-

1)  Honour Killing:

A variety of literature, particularly broad communications (paper and TV) depict that the khap panchayats play a dominant role in instigating the crime of honor killing. The conventional panchayats represent the opinion of the majority at local level. Despite the fact that the Khap Panchayats are obsolete as well as ultra vires according to the law yet they despite everything appear to prosper in north India because of the political help that they hold.

2)  Control Over Conjugal Affairs :

In traditional societies, marriage is basically a private

area concerning the family and the community. A marriage performed by pressurizing one or both the parties and without their free will and consent is viewed as a constrained marriage. Articles 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), ensures that consent to marriage is a fundamental human right.

The Supreme Court, in a series of judgments held that the option to choose one’s partner or the right to marry an individual one chooses is a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. In any case, marital traditions and conventions of North India by and large and jats of this locale depend on gotras.

At the end of the day, a man isn’t expected to marry in the gotra of his father, mother, father’s mother and mother’s mother in North India.

The hidden contention is that, perceived by old sages, intra-gotra relationships are not customary and subsequently protested.

Suggestion to clamp down Khap Panchayats

The following measures should be undertaken to tame khap panchayats,

●     Education and Mass Awareness:

The need of the hour is creation of mass awareness through education. Compulsory education on gender issues, gender sensitization through mass education campaign by the state is something which  is required to combat the evils of gender discrimination.

The man centric outlook that revels in superfluous hype of “honour” residing in women’s bodies must be changed through the light of education. Education is the most strong device for socio economic mobility and a key instrument for building a fair and just society and is one of the means of bridging the gap between gender inequality

●     Strong Political Will:

Politicians justify the activities of khap panchayats by terming them as cultural institutions rooted in the past, thereby giving them a new lease of life.

The establishment which could have died a natural death by concretization of constitutionally recognized Panchayati Raj Institution, has been reviewed and given some legitimacy by vote bank politics and enabled it to merge in a reverse of backward form.

A solid political duty is sine qua non to contain the beast of khaps. But ironically our political masters are behaving as mute spectators of atrocities committed by the khaps.

●     Stringent and Specific Laws:

Though having featured the significance of education in achieving changes in the outlook of the majority, it is presented that since change through mass education programs can’t be brought overnight, we need a law to put a leash on the crimes being committed against women in the name of honour.

It is by and large firmly felt that there ought to be a severe and deterrent law to deal with honour killings or honour crimes. Furthermore, explicit laws are the need of great importance to handle the monstrous nature of khap panchayats.

●     Active and Vigilant Society:

Individuals should quit following the silly standards set down by community and caste councils. Education and awareness of the people are very necessary.

We need a crusader somebody like Anna Hazare to push on the legislature for pivotal estimates to handle this social abhorrence, also, raising arousing among masses. The younger generation must stand forward as capable social activists and lead the battle for change in an in any case primitive society and try its best to maintain it.

 Supreme Court’s Ruling on Khap Panchayat

The Supreme Court  looked down on the  honour killings and ruled  any attempt by informal institutions such as khap panchayats to end a marriage between consenting adults is illegal since it infringes their fundamental right to choice and dignity. It also ordered authorities to take certain steps to protect inter-caste and inter-religious couples from honour crimes.
The Supreme Court further ruled that Khap panchayats, which are the self-appointed village courts, cannot stop a marriage between two consenting adults. The Honorable Court also  laid down certain guidelines to stop the interference by khap panchayats and are often responsible for the growing number of honour killings in the country.

Conclusion

The prejudicial and deprecatory practices by the khap panchayats especially honour killing is viewed as a crime that compromises with the unity and harmony of the community. Now the time has come to get rid of these primitive and medieval practices which are a disgrace to humankind. The salvation doesn’t lie in deserting the culture and by embracing another as this remedy is having western flavor.

The Indian women’s liberation movement is incomplete without addressing the issues of women from all intersectional ties of the country – a major part of which happen to be women from non-urban areas and non-dominant communities. Their struggle in itself is incomplete without eradicating the power Khap Panchayats wield over their lives. No matter how close India’s cities may be to riding the fourth wave of feminism, the collective liberation of women is impracticable without women in non-urban areas being able to make basic choices about their lives.

References

  1. An Appraisal of Khap Panchayats: Issues And Concerns at

https://www.academia.edu/Documents/in/Khap_Panchayat

  • Khap Panchayat at

https://www.ndtv.com/topic/khap-panchayats

3)    Myth and Reality of the Khap Panchayats: A Historical Analysis of the Panchayat and Khap Panchayat at

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0257643013477250
  • Khap Panchayat at

https://www.hindustantimes.com/topic/khap-panchayat

FAQs

  1. How Khap Panchayats came into existence?
  2. How do Khap Panchayats interfere in the freedom of the youth?
  3. What are the derogatory practices of Khap Panchayat?
  4. What makes the practice of Khap Panchayat derogatory?
  5. What are the ways in which the Khap Panchayat can be clamped down?

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