Q.3)The role of Khap Panchayats has increased during the farmer protests. Critically examine how Khap Panchayats help in strengthening local rural governance.
Why this question:
The Khap Panchayats have been playing an important part in the farmers’ protests over the Farm Laws.
Key demand of the question:
The role and Khap Panchayats in rural areas and the issues associated with them. Provide solutions for the issues.
Critically examine - This question expects you to first present the judgment, then put forward your opinion on the judgment and substantiate it. Mention the opposite argument and highlight the drawbacks of the argument. Conclude by giving your firm opinion on the topic
Briefly introduce what are Khap Panchayats and areas where they are prevalent.
In the first part, mention the importance of Khap Panchayats in strengthening governance in rural areas w.r.t. quick decisions on issues, trust it has among the masses.
In the next part, highlight the issues associated with them like female foeticide, honour killings, forced marriages, gender discrimination, etc. Mention the SC ruling that interference of Khap Panchayats in the marital choices of individuals is illegal. Also mention that currently there is a need to regulate the functioning of khap Panchayats instead of completely turning them down, reform their structure and monitor their functions.
Conclude with a way forward.
Khap Panchayats, which find their origin from ancient India, are the traditional social institutions engaged in dispute resolution in village communities. They are formally distinct from the lawfully elected village panchayats and their rulings have no legal sanctity in the eyes of court.
They are most prevalent in the Jat Community of Haryana and Western UP. A khap is an all male organization and its leaders are unelected but based on their social clout.
Role of khap panchayats in strengthening rural governance:
- Quick decision- certain issues require urgent attention and khap panchayats are a platform for such decisions
- Trust among the masses- since a khap is an association of elders in the village, the people have faith in them making their decisions very important
However there are certain issues associated with khap panchayats like:
- Honour killings- it has been estimated that hundreds of men and women are forced to be killed on the pretext of not adhering to the traditional norms.
- Forced Marriages- Sometimes, forced marriages are done by pressurizing one of the partners who might be an adult or minor. The victim of such marriage undergoes fear, threat, abduction and torture, sometimes resulting in suicide also.
- Female foeticide- khaps are male dominated bodies and have been responsible for forcing female foeticide in the rural areas.
The SC declared that interference of khap panchayats in marriage choices of individuals was illegal and amounted to infringement of freedom of choices. Therefore it is important for the government to make laws to regulate the functioning of khap panchayats to make sure they are used for the betterment of rural governance.