The Supreme Court on Monday suggested its amicus curiae to devise a strict legal regime to contain honour killings, wherein the focus should be on enforcing prohibitory orders against khap panchayats rather than on securing the arrest of its members that often leads to law and order problems.
The SC spoke of its mind following the report by amicus curiae senior advocate Raju Ramachandran and advocate Gaurav Agarwal. In their report, they urged the apex court to adopt harsh action including arrest of khap members in north India who, of late, conducted themselves as “Taliban-like” groups passing and executing judgment against innocent youths indulging in same gotra/caste marriages.
The bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai, however, felt the amicus curiae’s suggestion may be “impractical” considering the huge influence wielded by khaps in certain pockets of north India. “We are wondering how the order requiring arrest is to be implemented. At some areas it may cause law and order problems,” the bench observed and suggested to consider the Law Commission report recommending prohibitory orders.
The amicus report called for a set of preventive measures to be adopted by the state machinery and district police to ensure such khap meetings do not take place in the first place. Despite warning from the police “if the members of khap panchayat still plan to hold a gathering, which may cause reasonable apprehension of harm to the couple, the SP of the district would be duty bound to cause arrest of the members of the khap panchayat.”
At present, khap members could easily get away despite instigating deaths of young boys and girls who marry out of their own wish due to the vacuum existing in law. A PIL filed by NGO Shakti Vahini pointed out that killings of this nature are extra-judicial and khaps should be accountable for ordering such deaths not just in Haryana but in UP and Rajasthan as well.
The Law Commission in August 2012 came up with a report on the subject framing a draft law on Prohibition of Unlawful Assembly Bill which provided for prohibitory orders, violation of which would entail action under the Indian Penal Code. The bench adopted a middle path asking the amicus to consider this suggestion while posting the matter for hearing next on November 22.