The Khap Panchyat from districts surrounding Kurukshetra and other parts of Haryana seems to have been slighted by the decision of the Kurukshetra High Court of questioning their authority of awarding death penalties to couples who marry within the gotra. Such has been the instigation that a clarion call has been given by the Maha Panchyat to take the law in own hands if the law of land interferes in their system of justice deliverance. They have threatened to block the Delhi Chandigarh highway as well.
Does the threat sound familiar? Indeed, it does. The Maha Panchyat is seeking inspiration from the agitation that was undertaken by the Jats in Rajasthan to include their category as a part of the Other Backward Castes. The State machinery did not take action and Rajasthan was cut off from the country through rail and road link for quite a longtime. Does the same fate await Punjab and Haryana as well?
Lets go into history and find out the provisions as enumerated in the Indian legal chronicles. For most of the social issues, Manusmriti is taken as the reference point and in Manusmriti it has been written that a marriage between a boy and a girl cannot be solemnized if they belong to the same gotra. Now gotra, in its etymological derivation is derived from cow pen, and in the ancient times, the provisions were made as settlements were not so vast as they are now and it was done with the primary objective of protecting the cows that would otherwise have to be given during the time of marriage. It was also to ensure that the progeny does not suffer from genealogical diseases.
History being put in place, it is an accepted norm that in the present times, marriages are being performed without taking these factors into account in general. The young generation in the society has advanced and is not inclined to accept the rules and regulations that a society may try to impose on it. Panchyats cannot be above the land of law. The struggle here is between tradition and modernity.
So what is the way out, if there is any? The marriage between the same gotra incidentally is called as sagotra. If such a situation arises, it would be better if a different family adapts the girl, whereby her gotra would be changed and then she could marry with the boy to whom she wants to marry. It could be her maternal uncle, who can then give away the bride in marriage. Panchyats could give a thought to this aspect, whereby their authority would also not be eroded and the law of land would also not be violated.
By: Suman Rai