CHANDIGARH: The Supreme Court’s decision on Monday to set up a high-level committee consisting of senior police officers to deal with issues relating to intervention in marriages by bodies such as khap panchayats, has not gone down well with the khaps in Haryana.
Khaps are caste or community groups, present largely in rural areas of north India, which at times act as quasi-judicial bodies and pronounce harsh punishments based on age-old customs. Haryana in particular is notorious for honour killings of young men and women who dare to marry outside their caste.
The khaps told TNIE that while they respect the apex court’s order, but on the ground it would be difficult to change the societal norms on same-gotras and marriages within the same village.
“We respect the decision of the Supreme Court, but it is an attempt to interfere in and end our culture. As per tradition, one cannot allow inter-caste marriages in the same and bordering villages and same-gotra marriages also as we consider these women our sisters,” Satrol khap panchayat chief Subedar Indra Singh said. “But if a couple decides to get married, then we cannot stop them and had never stopped them in the past also. When the Hindu Marriage Act was formed, nobody from our side could make a representation and thus this Act was imposed on us.”
The apex court on Monday asked khap panchayats not to behave like conscience keepers of society and pointed out that a marriage between two adults was governed by the law.
“We respect the decision of the Supreme Court. We have no objections to inter-caste marriages, but how can we allow marriages within the same village, bordering villages and in the same gotra. Our society will not allow such marriages,” Sube Singh, national spokesperson, Sarv Khap said. “Khaps have never interfered in such marriages before and in the future also we will not do so, but it is society which has taken collective decisions against such alliances. And, it is society which will take decisions in the future also.”
Tulsi Grewal, chief, Meham Chaubisi khap, which is one of the biggest and most powerful khaps in Haryana, echoed the same views.
Om Parkash Dhankar of Dhankar Khap said, “Till the pressure of society is not created, the evils will not stop and they will keep on happening be it rapes or any other crimes. The court is just trying to create pressure on us and nothing else.”
The SC Bench referred to several judgments including the one passed in the Nitish Katara murder case
The bench made it clear that whether a marriage was null or void or illegal could be decided by the court under the law
When activist Madhu Kishwar tried to raise the killing of Ankit Saxena, allegedly by his girlfriend’s family members in Delhi, the court said the matter was not before it