Khap Panchayats : An Overview


In India, the Panchayati Raj system was introduced with the aim of decentralization and democratization.  Yet there remain certain mysteries.  Khap Panchayats, the self proclaimed courts of caste lords in a village, enjoy full legitimacy and authority among the section of their caste as custodian of honour.  It is through them that most regressive views are sought to be implemented.  It is very distressing to note that in times when people chat via 3G technology, Indian society has regressed to the Dark ages.

What Ambedkar prophetically said in the year 1948 is the currently the state of affairs in India’s villages where institutions such as Khap/Caste panchayat not only exist and flourish but also being nurtured by political class of our country.  Villages in India forms the social unit if society which requires profound social change.  However, the Indian society in general and its countryside in particular, as it today never witnessed the unfolding of process of enlightenment.  The project of enlightenment in this country was a nonstarter from the day one.  Hence, as the consequence we will see continuance of these caste panchayats to follow a certain code which is unwritten law for them, through which they save and defend their honour and so called culture.

Khaps panchayats are active in various states of the country especially Haryana.  Khaps of these states are notorious for their outlandish edicts like declaring married couples siblings, ostracising families and such other atrocious acts.  The reason behind all these atrocious verdicts is to save the so called honour and culture of the society.  The Question here arises: who are Khap Panchayats? Who gave them right to kill in the name of honour…?  These Khaps are an affront to human rights along with social evils like dowry and child marriages and need to be dealt strongly as possible just the country fight naxals or ultras.


What Is Khap Panchayat?

Panchayat actually implies gathering of five reasonable and regarded older folks picked and acknowledged by the town group. Normally, some relentless and effective persons, were pressured open accord and with no race assemble together and announce themselves ‘the lord of the station’, in this way constituting the standing panchayats.

The “Khap” is an old idea which has composed references found once again from the Apparatus Vedic times. There are fundamentally social-political gatherings, which as a rule contain the upper rank and elderly men who are united by topography and standing. The word Khap is most likely gotten from Latin word “corpus” which implies an association of person. Subsequently khap is a term for a social political gathering and utilized as a part of land sense.

Khap was an arrangement of social organization and association in the republics of North-western states like Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan in India since old times. The Khap comprised of a unit of 84 towns.


Method of reasoning Behind Khap Activism:

The reason overseeing these khaps is that diverse social orders have distinctive traditions or arrangement of preclusions, as per which a male or a female can’t have marriage with another male or female of other rank. They take after the tenet of endogamy-it implies the guideline confining marriage to individuals from the same tribe, town, standing, sub-position or other social gathering. A great many people believe that position framework is a static unbending component of Hindu society and it can’t change. This sort of intuition offers quality to the arrangement of khap panchayats in our general public.


Origin of Khap Panchayat:

The precise source of khap panchayat is till date not known but rather is accepted to begin in 600 AD. In antiquated times, amid the time when man was carrying on with a traveling life, towns are being shaped at a fast rate and man was heading towards human progress and better ways of life. All through the most recent few thousand years the general public of the Indian sub mainland, was composed in different structures, tribal town, and monarchical or republican the method of representing was that of a gathering of five, which in time was known as a Panchayat. Various towns bunch themselves into a Gohand. Various Gohands framed a “Khap” and number of Khaps shaped a ‘Sarv Khap’ grasping full area or state. Henceforth the Sarv Khap Panchayat spoke to all khaps. The individual khap would choose pioneers who might send appoints, who might speak to the Khaps at the Sarv Khap level. It was political association, made out of the considerable number of groups, groups and positions in the area.

Fundamentally these are the legacies of the tribal chambers, framed by different tribes with motivation behind encouraging determination of intra-tribal debate and between tribal intercourse. Prior these khaps are accepted to have been multi-rank. However, right away they have been simply a Jat foundation. These khaps by and large comprise of intense components of the predominant rank. They have awesome hold both at the neighborhood and common levels.


Source  Of Khap Panchayats:

As indicated by Ranbir Singh in his article, the accompanying entries might be made for the wellsprings of quality of khaps:

1)      The principle mystery quality of the khap panchayats is the perseverance of solid family relationship emotions among different tribes.

2)       Pervasiveness of the idea of seem- simli i.e. the idea of brotherhood (fellowship) among the families living in neighboring towns and in addition among various gotras living in the same town.

3)       Nobody raises the voice against the decision of khaps as they likewise are agreeable to the decision.

4)       The shortcoming of Panchayati Raj establishments is likewise in charge of the proceeded with quality of the khaps.

5)      The transformation of khap panchayats into vote banks has likewise made them basically unchallengeable.

6)       All the major political gatherings have been hesitant to raise their voices against them.


Some Realities of Khaps

There are some realities of khap can be found in a considerable lot of the structures which are being forced on the general population. These include:


1. Honor Executing:

Practically in all daily paper there is if not more than one news is of honor slaughtering where relatives of young lady executed both kid and young lady for wedding in the same sub-standing. Presently the inquiry emerges: What is honor Killings? There is no particular meaning of honor slaughtering. Notwithstanding, these “honor killings” are murder dedicated by relatives and the general population fitting in with the concerned station/class of relatives why should accepted have brought disgrace and disrespect on the family name. Another stark the truth is that the greater part of the honor killings have been accounted for from those zones where khap panchayats are more dynamic. These slaughtering are given shape by the merciless tenets of khap framework, which brings away their lives with uncouth fierceness. Individuals living in a khap are not permitted to wed in same gotra from the same town. The method of reasoning behind this, they contend is that individuals having a place with same gotra are accepted to be from the same faction or family heredity and subsequently siblings and sisters. Yet, there is awesome oddity included here. A late study charged by NCW, which was led by NGO Shakti Vahini uncovered that 72% of the 326 instances of honor violations were indeed between rank relational unions, while same gotra relational unions were just 3 percent. In all actuality, honor slaughtering is the result of conflict in the middle of convention and innovation and that’s it.

By making the false impression that all relational unions of decision between youthful couples are depraved, what khaps are really restricting is the privilege to pick marriage accomplice. Among a few examples of khap issuing fatwa’s, not a solitary one was an intra-gotra marriage, yet wedded couples were announced kin, and their families made to endure blacklists. As couples are specifically focused on, it is clear the genuine thought process is to control ladies’ sexuality to guarantee that property stays inside of the patriarchal station space.


2. Constrained Marriage:

A marriage performed by pressurizing one or both the gatherings and without their through and through freedom and full agree is thought to be a constrained marriage. Khaps frequently requested marriage between two grown-ups fitting in with same town or gotra as illicit and constrained female partner to wed other individual who has a place with various gotra. It is thought to be a type of aggressive behavior at home. In any case, regardless of expanding number of such cases society, police and law is turning a visually impaired eye to such episodes. Individuals falling prey to such constrained relational unions need to experience both mental and physical torment.

As of late one more decree issued by the khap panchayat of Uttar Pradesh town which assist insult effectively corrupted picture of khap panchayats. As per their announcement, ladies who are underneath 40 years old ought to make negligible utilization of mobiles furthermore banned affection marriage. This decree made waves all through the nation furthermore voices are raised about what is lawful legitimacy of such proclamation issued by alleged khap panchayat. These sorts of announcement make suspicion in our psyche whether we are truly living in 21st century.



Mahyem By The Khaps:

An expanding number of instances of honor killings have demonstrated reality of solid impact of khap panchyats on the Indian attitude. These infamous khap panchayats enjoyed wrongdoings by persuading individuals on how the demonstration of their kids conveyed disfavor to their families and what they need to do to ensure the honor of their gang. There are numerous occurrences of honor killings which are said to be incited by the choices of khap panchayats. Some of them are:


Mehrana Murdering Of 1991:
Mehrana (named after town in UP) murdering of 1991 is the principal significant episode pulled in consideration. A Jat working class young lady of the town named Roshini stole away with Jaatav (past untouchable rank) kid named Vijendra. One of the companions of the kid helped them. The town individuals got every one of the three. Town Khap panchayat requested to hang them with tree and blaze them. In the morning the request of the alleged panchayat was executed and the majority of the three were blazed alive to death before the entire town.

Manoj-Babli Murder Case: 

The Manoj-Babli murder case has set up point of reference in the field of honor executing. It was the situation of honor executing of Indian love bird Manoj-Babli in June 2007 and the progressive court case which verifiably sentenced charged for a honor slaughtering. The executing was requested by a khap panchayat of the Karora town in Kaithal area, Haryana.

The khap panchayat’s decision depended on the presumption that Manoj and Babli fit in with the Banwala gotra, a Jat group, and subsequently thought to be kin in spite of not being specifically related and any union between would be invalid. In any case, the couple proceeded with their marriage, taking after which they were stole and murdered by Babli’s relatives.

In Walk 2010 a Karnal area court sentenced the five culprits to be executed, the first run through an Indian court had done as such in a honor slaughtering case. The Khap head who requested yet did not participate in the killings got a lifelong incarceration, and the driver included in the kidnapping a seven year jail term.


Murdering Of Ved Pal And Sonia :
Another peculiar case including honor murdering was instance of Ved Pal and Sonia. Ved Pal who is a therapeutic specialist used to run a center inverse Sonia’s home. They experienced passionate feelings for one another. Both Ved Pal and Sonia realized that they had a place with various gotras and there was no between position wedding between them as both fit in with the same station, “Jat”. So the couple did not imagine that as a result of their wedding, they had brought on any disrespect to their families by wedding one another.

In any case, who realized that the unsafe mix-up Ved Buddy really made was getting hitched to his very own lady decision, who was from a connecting town. What them two did not know was the way that as indicated by the Jat convention of medieval times, individuals who lived in connecting towns or towns which share limit, were thought to be having a place with the same group, independent of the certainty to which gotra they have a place. Marriage between a kid and a young lady from abutting towns is subsequently against the khap manages, and denied by the panchayat, and in this way thought to be a wrongdoing. As an outcome khap panchayat requested to execute Sonia and Ved Buddy as they have conveyed shame to their separate ranks.

At long last one day when Ved Buddy went to his in-laws to bring back his wife, he was hanged by the swarm of the town disregarding the way that he was given police assurance. In this manner even a court arrange and outfitted police security couldn’t help Ved Buddy in recovering her wife home, or even spare his own life from the rage of the merciless supporters of khap guidelines.


The Instance Of Honor Murdering Of A Columnist, Jharkhand  
In April 2010, in Jharkhand, even a lady columnist has turned into the casualty of savage homicide for the sake of honor. Nirupama, a 22-year writer, who originates from a Brahmin family, experienced passionate feelings for a kid from another station and therefore, was ruthlessly killed for the sake of the honor.


Spreading Its Limbs In South India: The Instance Of Sivakumar And Megala, Tamil Nadu
The threat of honor killings under the weight of these khaps has spread its limbs all over India. In Shiva ganga, Tamil Nadu, a 20 year old young lady Megala was informed that she couldn’t wed her sweetheart, 24 year old Sivakumar as they were connected thus her family got their little girl wedded elsewhere in June, 2010 from where she absconded with her mate. The couple was at long last followed by the family and Sivakumar was pitilessly executed with sickles.


Khap Panchayat And Indian Legal system

Understanding the degree and frequencies of the acts of neglect and monstrosities perpetrated by Taliban-styled standing courts, the Indian legal by its impedance, to some degree put brakes on their working.

In Smt. Laxmi Kahhwaha versus The Condition of Rajasthan, an Open Interest Suit (PIL) was documented in the Rajasthan High Court, drawing the consideration of the court to illicit administrations of position panchayats on the weaker segment of the general public, particularly on ladies. The court watched that these panchayats had no locale at all to pass social blacklist, or force any fine on anybody and to disregard the essential privileges of a person.
In the case of UP versus Krishna Master,our Peak court made a phenomenal move by recompensing life sentence to the three blamed for the honor executing who killed six persons of a gang. The Seat further watched that wiping out verging on whole family on the feeble ground of sparing the honor of the family would fall inside rarest of the uncommon cases advanced by this court…. … this was repeated in Bhagwan Das versus State (NCT of Delhi) where the zenith court opined that all persons why should arranging execute honor slaughtering ought to realize that the scaffold anticipate them.
3. In Manoj And Babli Murder case, five of the seven convicts was sentenced to life detainment by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


4. In Sujit Kumar versus Condition of UP, Allahabad High Court noticed that in our mainstream and liberal nation what to a great degree irritating is that the police and different powers don’t appear to find a way to check these dishonorable and primitive acts.


5. In the famous instance of Armugam Servai versus State of Tamil Nadu, the SC watched that Khap panchayat frequently announce or support honor killings or different outrages in an organized route on such young men and young ladies, who wish to get hitched or have been hitched, or meddle with the individual existences of individuals. This is completely illicit and must be savagely stamped out. The court termed Khap panchayats as Kangaroo courts and pronounced them unlawful.



There is no specific law in India which deals with gruesome act of honour killings and any punishment regarding the same.  There are treated as murders under the provision of IPC as it is not a crime specified separately under the laws and no data about this crime has been collected by the National Crime Records Bureau. Apart from that, the most shameful situation emerges at that moment when the FIR’s were not being registered in such cases, and even the cases pursued, their conviction rate is very low.



To curtail this kind of killings, Central Government has made its view clear that it is coming out with a new legislation.  Under the proposed law, members of the khap panchayats or the victimsfamilies, if their action results in the death of the person or persons who feel went against the tradition or the wishes of khap will be punishable with sentence of death or life imprisonment.  In such cases, the entire panchayats will be held responsible.


For this purpose, the draft bill intends to append a new clause to Section 300 of the IPC.  It also intends to amend Indian Evidence Act and the Special Marriage Act, which would eliminate the provision for the mandatory 30-day notice period for marriages, intended to be solemnized under the Act.  The new bill is also expected to introduce a definition of honor killing for treating it as special crime and ensuring clarity for the law enforcement agencies.


However, it is distressing to note that in spite of such encouraging developments, the evil has not been checked efficiently.  In reality, the system itself supports barbarism.  The law has failed tremendously in curbing such nasty practices.  Although, the judiciary has played an active role, yet there were instances in the past where court orders have been ignored and protested against.


Thus, the urgent call is to pass stern laws, enforce them rigorously and punish the offenders deterrently so that electric shock in the idea of Jean Hampton ever flows in the nervous and circulatory systems of “Khap panchayats” and of the deaf and dumb civil society member there over.



In the end of this discussion, I only find one solution to eradicate this social evil i.e. combined effort should be made by various modern and formal institutions of our country like Panchayati Raj, Judiciary, Police and the larger state.  But above all, this deep rooted and thriving cactus’s destruction requires people to wake up.  They should stop following the irrational norms laid down by Panchas.  Education and awareness of the people are very necessary.

But in spite of various efforts made by our government and judiciary, the culture of honor killings continue unabated.  The reason is simple. Even the law enforcement agencies strike a conciliatory note as there is hardly any case reported or action against these perpetrators of injustice.  Moreover, police and political figures have their vested interests in its continuance.

So the answer of the above discussion comes with balancing the human values of liberty and equity without the uncivilized moral degradation of public based on neo-liberalism.  There is need for healthy norms along with some stringent legal measures that can come to power only through some new social reforms. Therefore, in addition to other effective way-outs, the government and social organizations would have to resort of changing the mindset of people.  As it is more than a law and order problem; it is a social evil!

Traditionally, caste panchayats have played a powerful role.  As they are not elected bodies, their decisions are not enforceable by law but their terror will continue unless they are banned.  Hence, the only possible solution to the problem is to banish the khaps from India.  It is imperative to punish the responsible people harshly in order to prevent cultural and religious practices that are derogatory in nature and violate human rights and dignity.  Killing the crimes in the name of the honor can be calculated as cold-blooded murders, and its ghastly practice amounts to grave violation of human rights.

In light of the above discussion, following suggestions are submitted:

First of all, there should be a uniform definition of honor killing so that there is no room left for ambiguity as to what constitutes crime.
Indian Parliament is required to enact a new legislation at the earliest for curbing the menace of unconstitutional khap panchayats.
Any person convicted under such law should also be debarred from contesting any election for lifetime.
Special fast track courts should be constituted for handling cases of honor killings.
There should be amendment in the Evidence Act in order to shift the burden of proof on accused, thereby making him responsible to prove his innocence in the event of honour killing.
Amendment in the IPC should be made to insert a new section for defining the crime of honor killing and prescribing punishment for the same.
Last but not the least, the Government of India should remember its obligations and commitment to protect its citizens from such violence under CEDWA.

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