Committee slams khaps, honour killings

Terming khap panchayats as "extra constitutional" bodies, the Justice J S Verma committee's report said on Wednesday that such "self-styled bodies" are not sanctioned by law. Stating that women have largely been targets of honour killings that were carried out following khap diktats, the committee said it was extremely important to take note of this "social menace".

"We wish to make it clear that the acts of extra-constitutional bodies like khap panchayats, which restrain the right of men and women to select a partner of their choice, do not enjoy the sanction of law in India. We are unable to understand how a set of self-styled bodies and panchayats can decide to outlaw marriages borne out of free choice," the report said.

"Khap panchayats are examples of institutional bias against women," said Gopal Subramaniam, one of the three members of the committee who drafted the report.

The committee said the means adopted by khap panchayats to secure compliance of members of their community with their notions of morality and right conduct, in the name of culture and tradition, has "assumed unreasonable proportions".

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