A Khap is a community representing a clan or a group of related clans. They are found mostly in northern India in the areas of Western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, even in southern India, they are prevalent in the name of Khata Panchayat.
Khap panchayats are not any formally elected bodies are associations but mere socially formed groups in villages, they have no official representation or authority from any government.
These Khap panchayats deal with the social issues in that village, such as dowry, alcohol abuse, abortion, etc. They give decisions for the people of that particular village instead of them approaching any legal help.
But these Khap panchayats give illogical and ruthless decisions. For example in 2011 a Khap Panchayat in Uttar Pradesh gave a decision to rape a man’s sisters who eloped with an upper class jat girl and to harass the man’s family till he comes back to the village.
These Khap Panchayats are majorly responsible for honour killings in the villages, there have been many cases where they ordered to kill the newly married couple for the sole reason of them belonging to different caste.
In 2011, Law commission made a draft bill named “THE PROHIBITION OF UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY (INTERFERENCE WITH THE FREEDOM OF MATRIMONIAL ALLIANCES) BILL, 2011”, but it remained ineffective.
There have been many Public Interest Litigations filed by social activits, NGOs to crub these Khap Panchayats.
Recently Supreme Court, hearing the writ petition by NGO Shakti Vahini regarding the offence of honour killings, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice D. Y. Chandrachud and Justice A. M. Khanwilkar reaffirmed, “Where two consenting adults agree to enter into matrimony, no individual rights, group rights or collective rights shall interfere therein or harass the couple”.
This case has been further scheduled to hear on 16th February.