Within a week of the Supreme Court’s direction to state governments to rein in khap panchayats (caste councils) from issuing illegal diktats, khap leaders from across Haryana held a meeting here on Sunday and decided to seek a review of the order.
During the ‘Sarva Khap Mahapanchayat’, khap leaders decided to file a review plea against the April 19 order of the apex court and to stage a protest demonstration at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.
Representatives of around 84 khap panchayats participated in Sunday’s meeting.
“Khap panchayats have always worked for the welfare of our community. We have never tried to take the law into our hands and all decisions have been taken with the mutual consent. It is totally wrong to relate the incidents of honour killings with khap panchayats,” said Nafe Singh Nain, a senior khap leader, who presided over the meeting.
“We will fight against the Supreme Court’s decision and stage a widespread protest in New Delhi during parliament’s monsoon session,” he said.
Following the direction of Supreme Court, Haryana’s home secretary directed the deputy commissioners and police superintendents of all districts to keep a check on the activities of khap panchayats.
Amir Singh, another khap leader, said: “The court is unnecessarily harassing us. Khaps are the best medium to amicably settle various disputes. We would certainly not tolerate if anybody raises fingers towards our dignity and intentions. We would fight as a single unit and bring all panchayats under the same umbrella.”
“Haryana khaps will follow the path of Gandhian Anna Hazare and continue the protest peacefully,” said Singh.
A bench of justices Markandeya Katju and Gyan Sudha Mishra had said in a judgement that the new trends of kangaroo courts, honour killings, “khap” panchayaths in northern India and “katta” panchayats in Tamil Nadu were barbaric and illegal, the perpetrators of which required the harshest punishment.
“We have in recent years heard of khap panchayats (known as katta panchayats in Tamil Nadu) which often decree or encourage honour killings or other atrocities in an institutionalised way on boys and girls of different castes and religion, who wish to get married or have been married, or interfere with the personal lives of people.
“We are of the opinion that this is wholly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out. There is nothing honourable in honour killing or other atrocities and, in fact, it is nothing but barbaric and shameful murder. Other atrocities in respect of personal lives of people committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons deserve harsh punishment,” Justice Katju said writing the judgement.
The apex court asked the administrative and police officials to take strong measures to prevent such atrocious acts.
The apex court said the government should proceed against such officials departmentally if they do not prevent the incident despite having prior knowledge.
The apex court said copy of the judgement shall be sent to all chief secretaries, home secretaries and director generals of police in all states and Union territories for circulating the same to the district magistrates and SSPs for compliance.