Rajasthan becomes first state to take on khaps

ADITI TANDON IN THE TRIBUNE

New Delhi, October 18

When most states are disturbingly silent on the role of caste panchayats in honour crimes, Rajasthan has turned a new leaf by slamming the same and saying it won’t tolerate unwarranted diktats coming from khap panchayats.

Becoming the first state (among nine) to reply to the Supreme Court notice of June 30 on measures being taken to check caste groupings allegedly involved in honour killings, Rajasthan has said it will book khap panchayat perpetrators of such crimes under the National Security Law and Gunda Act (which includes offences against the human body like murder, criminal intimidation and insult) and will strip them of government facilities.

For this purpose, it has asked the police officials to prepare a record of khap panches found committing illegal acts. “A list of such persons (panches) will be sent to the district administration to put them in the black list and deprive them of all government facilities,” the state has said. The admission forms part of the affidavit which Rajasthan filed this September 21 following the apex court’s June notices to nine states, including Punjab, Haryana, UP, Delhi, WB, Jharkhand and MP, in the Shakti Vahini case on honour killings. The states like Punjab, Haryana, UP and Delhi which account for 96 per cent of the reported honour crimes in India have not yet replied to the notice. Of the 121 honour killings in the past two years, UP recorded 48, Haryana 41 and Delhi 15.

Rajasthan is the first state to admit that caste panchayats tend to perpetrate honour crimes. “We have taken a stringent view about the matter in which certain groups styled as socially sanctioned denominations tend to perpetrate these crimes. India is governed by the rule of law and no denomination can claim any legitimate right flowing out of customs which infringes the law,” states the affidavit The Tribune has procured.

The state government has directed every SHO to immediately register FIRs and even detain the perpetrators under the National Security Act of 1980, which allows a deputy commissioner or a commissioner of police to order such detention in the interest of public order.

Rajasthan has also, for the first time, defined honour crime; it would constitute financial, physical punishment; torture or harassment of women or causing any harm to the respect of a woman; nullifying relations that have come to exist between a man and a woman after they have married; exiling any person or family from a village; damaging movable or immovable property of families of couples involved.

“If the police receive information about a khap panchayat torturing a couple from sources other than official, top echelons of the district would be held responsible,” the landmark affidavit states, serving an example to states like Haryana which have so far defended caste panchayats as centuries-old groups with charitable intentions.

http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20101019/nation.htm#4

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