Against the backdrop of legally perverse diktats of the khap panchayats related to women, the government on Friday urged the Supreme Court to evolve a mechanism to monitor crimes against women by the self-styled panchayats.
In response to the government’s plea, the top court said the khap panchayats can express their views on issues relating to inter-caste marriage before the apex body. A committee set up by the SC that examined the ill-effects of the khap panchayats and their illegal diktats has suggested that the district administration must be held responsible for allowing such ‘kangaroo courts’. A panel of lawyers in a report said the police and district magistrates must act proactively to kill this menace which is also against constitutional safeguards.
Concerned with diktats like awarding death sentence to couples belonging to different gotra or castes, the panel said sections 149 to 151 of the CrPC lay down the power of the police to prevent cognisable offences. Also, the police can arrest a person(s), even without a warrant, if it knows of a design to commit any cognisable offence. In cases of the khap panchayats, it is very necessary for the police to take steps to prevent any physical harm to the couple, the report said. Any gathering, which instigates commission of an illegal act, is an illegal. It amounts to instigation to commit a crime, which may result in death of an individual, the panel added.
The government is already contemplating a law in the Representation of the People Act, 1951, to outcast any one who directly, indirectly or collectively propels the dastardly crime. Such a person or persons would not be allowed to either caste vote or contest an election, the proposed law says.
Certain political parties see a strong vote bank among the caste-minded rural constituents and have refrained from demonstrating their opposition to the national shame caused by the khap panchayats.