Khap Panchayats: The Unconstitutional and Illegal Bodies of Rural Social Architecture

Aishwarya Singh
Symbiosis Law School, Pune

Volume III, Issue III, 2020

In India, the Panchayati Raj System or the Local Self Government was introduced with the aim of decentralizing the powers of Legislatures and democratizing the country from the grass root level. However, some self-proclaimed courts of caste lords in the village (also known as Khap Panchayat) which usually consists of male members of a particular “gotra” who think that they have the power to control the choices made by people enjoy full legitimacy and authority as “Custodians of Honor”. It is because of their meaningless diktats that most regressive views are implemented as they exercise a vast support from the villagers who believe that whatever they are doing is good for their community. The adjudications given by Khap Panchayats are purely patriarchal in nature and “Honor Killings” or “Barbaric Murders” committed on their orders (Khap Panchayats) for the sake of preserving the honor of a family, a clan or a village is one of them which have continued to persist in the Modern times too.In the name of preserving Indian culture, they are perpetuating crimes and thereby setting an example to be followed by their descendants. These are the acts which are usually considered as quintessential mindset of Arab-Muslim world by the International Community. Khap Panchayats, institutions which were originally incorporated for maintaining law and social order in the society comprised of upper and middle caste land owners. They started functioning as judicial entities in parallel to the State Judiciary by subordinating their powers over the poor and their diktats mainly focused on perpetuating caste hierarchies. Khap Panchayats or Caste Panchayats, which were originally incorporated to be credible bodies having a social outlook, are now highly politicized. They are active in various states of India during the time when the country is going through rapid globalization and social and economic advancements. As India tries to fly high, the disgraceful judgements of the self-proclaimed “Custodians of Honor” definitely effect its reputation. Even though Indian Judiciary has a come a long way in delivering some of the most incredible landmark judgements of all time but there still remains a lot to be achieved in order to protect the society from the clutches of these so called “Unconstitutional” and “Unlawful” dispensers of Justice. 

Keywords: Khap Panchayat, Honour, Custodians, Unconstitutional, Illegal, Patriarchy.


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