Free Press Journal

Row over ‘khap’ diktat: SC orders protection for family


Khap Panchayat

New Delhi: A dalit family, facing threats of ‘khap panchayat’ after its son eloped and married an upper- caste girl, today got relief from Supreme Court which not only asked the Uttar Pradesh and Delhi police to protect them but also ordered release of the youth, arrested in a drug case. A bench comprising justices J Chelameswar and A M Sapre also asked the UP administration to file its response within four weeks on a petition filed by two sisters of the youth who were allegedly ordered to be raped and paraded naked by a ‘khap panchayat’ to suffer punishment for his affair.

The bench ordered the release of the youth from the prison today itself on furnishing a bond of Rs 50,000 and the surety of the like amount before the Supreme Court registrar. “According to the counsel for the petitioner, nobody is coming forward to bail the boy because of fear of reprisal. We interacted with him in-camera.

“Looking at the circumstances of the case, we deem it appropriate to direct that the boy be enlarged on bail on a personal bond in a sum of Rs 50,000 along with a bond from his elder brother, who is in the service of the Delhi Police, for the like sum, to the satisfaction of the Registrar of this Court,” the bench said.

The apex court also directed the Delhi Police to take appropriate measures for protection of the family as the entire family is currently residing in the capital. “We deem it appropriate to direct the Delhi Police to take such appropriate measures as are necessary and sufficient to protect the life and liberty of the petitioner and the members of her family,” the bench said.

The boy, who had eloped and married a Jat girl, was recently arrested by UP police in connection with a case lodged under Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, a habeas corpus petition, filed by advocate Vivek Singh on behalf of the girls, said.

The girls, who hail from Baghpat district of Uttar Pradesh, have claimed that they had to flee their village due to atrocities by members of Jat community and the UP Police. Their family cannot return to their village and have been rendered homeless, they said.

“The Petitioner has been condemned by the Khap Panchayat to be raped and paraded naked because her brother fell in love and eloped with her friend and neighbour who belongs to the dominant caste of Jat,” their plea has said.

A ‘khap panchayat’ is a body of village elders, mainly in north India, which have emerged as quasi-judicial bodies that pronounce harsh punishments based on age-old regressive customs.

The plea further contended that the brother’s affair had invited the wrath of police and Jat community as a consequence of which her family members were abducted and tortured by the police.