New Delhi, Apr 19: Terming 'khap' panchayat as illegal and honour killing as "barbaric and shameful", the Supreme Court today said these should be stamped out "ruthlessly" and asked states to suspend district magistrates and SPs concerned if they failed to act against the offenders.
A bench of Justice Markandeya Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Mishra said in a judgment that the new trends of kangaroo courts, honour killings, "khap" panchayaths in northern India and "katta" panchayats in Tamil Nadu were barbaric and illegal, the perpetrators of which required the harshest punishment.
"We have in recent years heard of ‘khap panchayats' (known as katta panchayats in Tamil Nadu) which often decree or encourage honour killings or other atrocities in an institutionalised way on boys and girls of different castes and religion, who wish to get married or have been married, or interfere with the personal lives of people.
"We are of the opinion that this is wholly illegal and has to be ruthlessly stamped out. There is nothing honourable in honour killing or other atrocities and, in fact, it is nothing but barbaric and shameful murder. Other atrocities in respect of personal lives of people committed by brutal, feudal-minded persons deserve harsh punishment," Justice Katju said writing the judgment.
The apex court asked the administrative and police officers to take strong measures to prevent such atrocious acts.
"If any such incidents happen, apart from instituting criminal proceedings against those responsible for such atrocities, the state government is directed to immediately suspend the district magistrate/collector and SSP/SPs of the district as well as other officials concerned and chargesheet them," the bench said.
The apex court said the government should proceed against such officials departmentally if they do not prevent the incident despite having prior knowledge.
"If they failed to promptly apprehend the culprits and others involved and institute criminal proceedings against them, as in our opinion they will be deemed to be directly or indirectly accountable in this connection.
"Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism and feudal mentality. Moreover,these acts take the law into their own hands, and amount to kangaroo courts, which are wholly illegal," the bench said.
The apex court said a copy of the judgment shall be sent to all chief secretaries, home secretaries and director generals of police in all states and union territories for circulating the same to the district magistrates and SSPs for compliance. PTI