The Supreme Court today invited ‘Khap Panchayats’ to hear their views before issuing any order to stop them from harassing and killing couples, particularly women, in the name of the family’s honour for entering into inter-caste or intra-gotra marriages.
The Centre, however, fervently pleaded with the apex court to put in place a mechanism to monitor crimes against women by Khap Panchayats, the caste-based councils, as the police has not been able to protect women facing ordeals at their hands.
A bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai, however, said before passing any order it would like to hear the views of Khap Panchayats and said they can come before it on the next date of hearing on January 14.
In the meantime, the bench said as a pilot project it would examine the situation in three districts where the Khap Panchayats are active and summoned the Superintendents of Police of Rohtak and Jind districts of Haryana and that of Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh to apprise the court of the situation there.
The bench asked the petitioner, Shakti Vahini, an NGO, to inform various Khaps’ elders to come before it to express their views.
“These statements are being attributed to them but we do not know their views. There may be many Khaps and there may be variations in their opinions,” the bench said when the petitioner and Centre referred to media reports carrying views of Khaps on various issues.
“We would be more satisfied if we get views from the Khaps. At the moment we are hearing views that are hostile to them,” the bench said adding, “We do not want to fall into the act of giving a dog a bad name and hang it.”
“You identify the prominent Khaps and inform their elders today or tomorrow that the court is willing and ready to hear them,” the bench said while posting the matter for further hearing on January 14