Rein in khaps, prevent honour killings: SC panel

Local police and district administration should initiate preventive steps to ensure khap panchayats are not held in villages to issue diktats curbing individual freedom, recommends a report submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday.

Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, appointed by SC to assist the court on a public interest litigation (PIL) against khap panchayats, has also called for arresting such “self-styled” decision makers if they failed to take heed of police’s warnings against the “illegal” gathering.

“In cases of khap panchayat, it is very necessary for the police to take timely steps so as to prevent any physical harm to the couple. Any gathering, which instigates commission of an illegal act, is an illegal gathering. It amounts to instigation to commit a crime, which may result in death of an individual,” the report stated.

Placed before a bench of justice Aftab Alam and justice Ranjana Prakash Desai, the report says the district magistrate and SP should be held accountable if a khap panchayat meets and directions, including “honour killings”, are issued.

It has asked the court to convert the recommendations into its directions to all states and Union territories until Parliament enacts a law.

Ramachandran said the police must play a proactive role to protect the fundamental rights of people and should immediately identify district and villages that have had instances of honour killings in the past year.

He further recommended departmental action against either the police officer-in-charge of the village or the SP in case it fails to prevent khap panchayat

The senior advocate said it was the local police’s responsibility to inform panchayat members that such gatherings and diktats were illegal.

“Officer in-charge of police station should be issued directions by SP if there any inter- caste marriage takes place,” it recommended.

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