Khap Panchayat and Honor Killing : Important Topics for UPSC Exams


Khap Panchayat and Honor Killing : Important Topics for UPSC Exams


Why in News?

  • In its latest observation while hearing a petition filed by Shakti Vahini, an NGO, to make honour killing a specific crime, the Supreme Court took a severe stand against intervention by Khap panchayats in inter-religious, inter-caste marriages of adult men and women.

  • Addressing on Honour killing Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said that two adults are free to marry and “no third party” including Parents, society and khaps has a right to harass or cause harm to them.

  • Recently, Centre in a reply to supreme court on the issue of Honour killing, has mentioned that there should be provision to inform the officer who is registering the marriage by the couple facing such threat and the officer in turn can intimate the police to provide them security.

What is Honour Killing

  • Killing of a relative, generally a female, who is supposed to have brought dishonour on the family through the acts like Inter-caste/ Inter-Religious Marriage is defined as Honour killing.

  • In 2015 alone, 251 honour killings were registered in India and the Honour killings have been reported mainly in the Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh while it is also widespread in South India and the western Indian states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.

What is Khap Panchayat?

  • Khap is a cluster of villages united by caste and geography and all boys and girls within a khap are considered brothers or sisters.

  • In Khap Panchayats, the leadership is to be chosen on the parameters of social status, stature, age, gender, financial power etc. These are not truly democratic bodies, but a consultative process is formally observed where the decisions are respected by the community under peer pressure to shun social stigma for a failure to adhere to the decisions. The principle of natural justice is hardly observed

  • In areas governed by Khap panchayats Love marriages are considered taboo and those living in a Khap are not allowed to marry in the same gotra or even in any gotra from the same village.

  • Social boycotts and fines are the major tools for implementing the orders of Khap Panchaayts and incidents like Dalit girl in Haryana committing suicide after being allegedly gangraped on the orders of Khap Panchayat are not rare.

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Previous stand of supreme court against Khap Panchayat

  • Supreme court in 2011, termed such khap Panchayat as “kangaroo courts”, and declared them illegal and court wanted them extinguished.

Analysis

  • Honour Killing violates Article 14, 15 (1& 3), 19, 21 and 39 (f) of the Constitution of India and it also Infringes right to live with dignity as per article 21 of the Constitution of India.

  • Shows lack of attributes of empathy, love, compassion, tolerance, rational thinking capability, emotional intelligence etc.

  • Punishment inflicted by Khap Panchayat subverts integrity of institutions like police, judiciary etc.

  • Several Hindu groups and Khap Panchayats had issued so called fatwas to prevent girls from wearing certain apparels. These types of moral policing itself are a challenge to administration. Such bans are against the fundamental rights enshrined in art 21 and 19 of constitution and can send wrong interpretation of Indian culture and may portray a rigid mindset at global platform.

Causes for Honour Killing

  • Rigidity of the caste system, Illiteracy and unawareness about the rights, Khap Panchayat, Danger of losing Prestige and Status in society are the major causes which lead to Honour Killing.

Law Commission on Honour Killing

  • The Law Commission in 2012 (in its Report no 242) prepared a draft bill to prohibit interference in marriage alliances and to address the problem of khap panchayats in this draft, Law commission states that such informal groups would be treated as an ‘unlawful assembly’ and decisions that amount to harassment, social boycott, discrimination or incitement to violence should be punishable with a minimum sentence.

  • This draft was criticised for being extremely narrow and conservative in its approach although it was similar to draft submitted by National Commission of Women.

Prevention of Crimes in the Name of ‘Honour’ and Tradition Bill, 2010

Provisions of the Bill:

  • The Bill protects the couple against the expulsion and socio-economic sanctions and restricts the village panchayat or the assembly of any community, such as khap from disapproving the marriage of the couple.

  • The Bill has provision for the Punishment of the persons involved, including family member, for intend to persecution of the couple or cause grievous harm and further burden of proof of innocence lies with the accused.

Solutions

  • Media can play a major role by condemning such kind of crimes and should create awareness in the society about such kind of heinous crimes.

  • Literacy can be used as a tool to curb this menace and people should be made aware about the Validity and authority of the Khap Panchayat and the laws related to that.

  • To ensure that equality right follows there must be a provision of one or two women sitting in the Khap Panchayats and the State must focus upon projects and programmes which help in gender equity.

  • Government of Maharashtra published and brought into force the Maharashtra Protection of People from Social Boycott (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2016 which is a welcome step to check such kind of activities other states should also take learnings from such unprecedented step.

Conclusion:

Abhorrent cultural practices like Khap panchayats, sati or triple talaq are clearly not accepatble. There are certain values of equality and justice that have to be non-negotiable. Justice Verma Committee Report have also recommended to put measures to Monitor illegal, patriarchal village councils which are known as “Khap Panchayats” that sanction so called “honour killings” and impose oppressive diktats such as wearing western clothes, banning girls and women from using mobile phones, or venturing out unaccompanied.

MODEL QUESTIONS

Q. Prevention of Crimes in the Name of ‘Honour’ and Tradition Bill, 2010 is related with which of the following?

A. Triple Talaq.

B. Preventing traditional maladies like Jalikattu.

C. Expulsion and socio-economic sanctions by the Khap Panchayats.

D.Dowry.

Answer- C

Q. Analyse the incidents of Honour Killing in India? What are the existing provision against honour killing and what can be the way forward in eradicating such malady from the society?

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