In a retrograde decree of sorts, a Gujarati community panchayat from Mumbai has excommunicated a couple, who was married in 2000 and have three children, only because the spouses share the same surname.
The couple — Kirit Baria, 35, and his wife Chandrika, 35 — has moved the high court seeking directions to the state government to initiate appropriate action against the members of Mumbai Meghwal Panchayat. They have sought quashing of the order issued by the panchayat against them.
In its March 29, 2008, meeting, the panchayat had passed a resolution declaring that any boy or girl having the same surname shall be deemed to be siblings and marriage between them shall be against the tradition of the community, states the Barias petition.
The resolution, according to the petition, further stated that any person breaching the resolution shall be deemed an offender and would be prohibited from participating in all cultural programmes held by the Meghwal community.
Under the same resolution, the panchayat had placed two couples, including Barias, under social boycott.
“Since then, we have't been allowed to participate in any community event," Kirit told HT. “We have neither attended any marriage nor offered condolences to anybody from our community.”
According to the Barias petition, the panchayat had restrained all community members from interacting with any member of their family - the couple, their two daughters and son. Following which, some community members disconnected water supply to the Barias home, compelling them to shift from Chichpokali to Naigaon near Vasai, alleges the petition.
The Barias have contended in their petition that the panchayat had no authority to place them under social boycott by snatching away their fundamental rights. Their petition will come up for hearing before a division bench of Justice DK Deshmukh and Justice KK Tated on Monday.
Despite repeated attempts, no panchayat member was available for comments.