Justice Mudgal Says Khap Panchayats Not Above Law

Expressing concerns over the dictates issued by bodies like khap panchayats, Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal has made it clear that they are not above the law.

“Are you trying to say that khap panchayats are above the Constitution? This is not Afghanistan, this is India. Talibani courts cannot be allowed here,” said Justice Mudgal while hearing a case related to a PIL by an NGO, Lawyers for Human Rights International.

In an intervening petition, Advocate Pirthi Singh Chauhan had contended that khap panchayats were not doing anything illegal.

“Khap panchayats are complementing customary law and it is the right of khap panchayats, rather their fundamental duty as well, to abide by the custom,” said the plea.

Referring to Ved Pal’s case – he was lynched by a mob in a village for marrying within the same gotra – Chouhan said: “The acts of Ved Pal and his wife amounted to public nuisance, affecting other citizens of the religion.”

Chouhan said that the victim had not followed the “conditions of a valid Hindu marriage”.

“Marriage between same gotra is strictly prohibited. The actions of khap panchayats are not inconsistent or derogatory to the Constitution. Any restrictions imposed by the khap are valid,” he contended.

Chauhan further stated that “If khap panchayats do not impose restrictions, then violators will destroy the society and create chaos”.

Reacting to the application, the Chief Justice said that nobody is above the Constitution.

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