Khaps to SC: Honour killings only by peace-loving families

Defending their role in honour killings, the Sarva Khap Panchayat on Monday claimed before the Supreme Court that such acts were committed "only" by "peace-loving and law abiding" families due to "social pressure".

The Sarva Khap, representing 67 khap panchayats, said that amendments to the Hindu Marriage Act must be enacted to disallow same-gotra marriages and thereby reduce the number of honour killings.

"The main culprits for honour killings are not the representatives of khaps but the near and dear ones of the couples and more so the relatives of the girls when they cannot resist social pressure of the locality and taunts of relatives," stated a written submission adduced before a Bench led by Justice Aftab Alam. The khaps said: "It is observed that such incidents happen only in the peace-loving and law-abiding people of the village and normally not in the mischievous families." Love marriages, which the khaps described as "socially/ customarily/ traditionally prohibited relationships", forced family members to carry out the killings to save family honour.

The Bench was hearing a PIL by NGO Shakti Vahini.

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaisingh brought to the notice of the Bench a recent diktat by a khap panchayat in Uttar Pradesh prohibiting women from carrying mobile phones and defining a dress code for them.

Disapproving this, the Bench said: "Are such diktat also being passed? We expect you (senior police officers, who were summoned) to tell us everything. It also violates the law. How can someone ask others not to carry mobile? Does it not offend the law?"

When asked, police officers from UP and Haryana told the court that though khaps issued some socially retrograde resolutions, they were never directly involved in honour killings. They said that khaps played positive roles by passing resolution against female foeticide.

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