The Supreme Court on Monday warned khap panchayats that their medieval diktats such as banning girls — who are less than 18 years — from carrying mobile phones were illegal and unacceptable to any civilised society.
“How can anybody ask anyone not to carry a phone? Does this not offend the law?” said a bench of Justice Aftab Alam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai during the hearing of a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking guidelines to rein in khap. The court got furious after police officers from Meerut, Rohtak and Jind spoke of their experiences with khap panchayats and said their resolutions did not violate the law though were “socially retrograde.”
“You don’t give importance to it,” the bench told police officers. It was unimpressed by the officers’ submission that during their tenure khaps hadn’t passed any resolution directly involved with “honour killing.”
“Officers from Meerut and Haryana want to give certificate to khap. You are trying to simplify the issue,” it told additional advocate general Gaurav Bhatia when he sought time to file a response on behalf of UP.
Additional solicitor general Indira Jaisingh and counsel Raju Ramachandran condemned the practice of khap to ex-communicate a person defying its order.
The SC observation has evoked a mixed response among khaps in UP. While reitreating they respect court, khaps refused to accept the SC’s intervention in their social matters. “We won’t allow anyone to intervene in our traditions,” said Surinder Singh, Deshwal Khap.