Only Courts can impart justice
The media coverage of the conviction of five persons in the honour killing case of Karnal after the Khap panchayat invalidated an intra sub caste marriage of a couple leading to their murder has once again highlighted that the courts alone were empowered to handout justice as per the law of the land. No other body including the Khap Panchyats has any business to interpret matters and take law into their own hands.
Khap Panchayats have their utility but passing judgement which could lead to “an honour killing” cannot be justified under any circumstances. It is in fact, the failure of the State to ensure that the Constitution and the Laws that govern our country were supreme and nobody could supersede them whatever the provocation.
The Khap Panchayats are based on the principles which governed every day life during medieval times and village elders behave in a certain manner because their forefathers also acted similarly many hundred years ago. They take it upon themselves to impose social sanctions and uphold customs which may have got outdated once India became an independent and free country governed by her own constitution. It should have therefore been the duty of the state to create awareness amongst rural people about the laws of the land and to also educate them.
There is no empowerment which can surpass education as most primitive type actions have at their root sheer ignorance. When politicians want to give greater political power to various sections of society, they should keep in mind that education would empower them more than anything else.
The Khap Panchayat justice has been compared to the Taliban type kangaroo courts. The comparison is I think not entirely completely true but yes in passing verdicts on people without having the legal authority to do so is something which does not belong to this era. I am also compelled to draw comparison between the Khap type system and the way media trials are held especially by the electronic media where the journalists take it upon themselves the right to act as prosecutors and judges in many cases.
As I have stated earlier, media has a role to play in highlighting any case which is being suppressed because of the involvement of important people. But it cannot give itself the right to pre judge or judge an issue. The way things have been happening, the media gives an impression that any judgement other than what they have reached will be unacceptable and the accused is pronounced to be guilty in cases before his actual guilt has been established in any court of law. It is for them also that I want to say that it is courts alone who have the right to pronounce someone guilty or not and media should stop hounding the accused just because in its perception, he or she is guilty.
Therefore there are lessons to learn for everyone from the latest judgement of the court sentencing the killers of the young couple to death. The judicial process which we have has to be respected and no Khap Panchayat or media organization should try and take law in its own hand and hand out kangaroo type justice. I know there may be disagreement in respect of comparing the Khap Panchayat justice system to the media trials but it is a matter of opinion. I am against any body exercising extra judicial powers of any kind.