WIDOW’S ENTRY IN VILLAGE, BANNED
PANEL SEEKS REPORT ON BAN OF WIDOW’S ENTRY IN VILLAGE
In the State of Haryana, women, caught in the strands of patriarchy, are often dishonored by the society after the death of their husbands. Call it their age-old belief or mentality, but it is prevalent even today in some sections of the society. Despite strict laws that promote widow remarriage and suppress discrimination in society, some instances stand against the present legal set up.
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A similar incident of discrimination happened recently in Dhani Bhojraj village of Fatehabad district. The elected panchayat banned the entry of a widow in the village for 15 years. The diktat was part of a written decision pronounced by the panchayat while settling a dispute over a share of land between the widow and her father-in-law.
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Facts in Brief:
- In September 2019, the husband of woman Rajbala Devi died under mysterious circumstances.
- A mother of two children, the Rajbala (widow), got embroiled in a property dispute with her in-laws and demanded a share in the property. She, along with her son, went to her parental home in ChamarKhera village. Her daughter, aged 12, is still residingwith her grandfather.
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- Rajbala’s father-in-law Gopal owned 10 acres of agricultural land in the village. Gopal has three children -Shamsher (Rajbala’s husband) and two daughters (both married).
- Village sarpanch Sadhuramheld a panchayat at the village on May 25. The panchayat divided 10 acres equally among seven family members, giving approximately 1.4 acres per person. The land’s equal share went to Gopal, his wife, Gopal’s daughter-in-law (Rajbala Devi), her son, and her daughter besides two daughters of Gopal.
- The panchayat decided that the rent of shares of Rajbala Devi and her son would be given to them annually as the land was leased out to another person for cultivation. The panchayat said a total of 4.5 acres (shares of Rajbala and her two children) would be mutated in the name of Rajbala’s son when he attains the legal age for landowning.
- In this written decision, the panchayat stated that Rajbala Devi would stay with her parents for 15 years and not come to her in-laws’ house for this period. The panchayat in Dhani Bhojraj ordered her not to set foot in the village till her son turned 18. Rajbala, however, stated that she had not accepted the decision of the panchayat about not visiting the village for 15 years.
Article 19 of The Constitution of India
- Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc
(1) All citizens shall have the right
(a) to freedom of speech and expression;
(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;
(c) to form associations or unions;
(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;
(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
(g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
(2) Nothing in sub clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence
(3) Nothing in sub clause (b) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause
(4) Nothing in sub clause (c) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India or public order or morality, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause
(5) Nothing in sub clauses (d) and (e) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub clauses either in the interests of the general public or for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe
(6) Nothing in sub clause (g) of the said clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it imposes, or prevent the State from making any law imposing, in the interests of the general public, reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause, and, in particular, nothing in the said sub clause shall affect the operation of any existing law in so far as it relates to, or prevent the State from making any law relating to,
(i) the professional or technical qualifications necessary for practising any profession or carrying on any occupation, trade or business, or
(ii) the carrying on by the State, or by a corporation owned or controlled by the State, of any trade, business, industry or service, whether to the exclusion, complete or partial, of citizens or otherwise.
The primary function of NHRC is to conduct inquiries into violations of human rights. NHRC conducts inquiries for the following categories of violations:
- Violation of the right to life, liberty, equality, and dignity.
- Violation of international treaties to which India is a party.
- Abetment of violation of human rights by a Public Servant.
- Negligence of public servants in the prevention of human rights violations.
The right to movement has been granted expressly by Article 19(1) of India’s constitution. It has also been an integral part of personal liberty under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Any curtailment of such right by any institution of State (be it Sarpanch) is unconstitutional. Thus, banning of the widow by Sarpanch without any reasonable rationale is unconstitutional.
As the Human Rights Commission has the function to protect citizens’ right to life and liberty, it must protect the widow’s interests. Takingsuo moto cognizance of the same, the Haryana Human Rights Commission has also sought a reply from the Deputy Commissioner Fatehabad. The commission headed by its chairperson Justice SK Mittal has observed that if the village panchayat has passed such an order, then such a decision is not only illegal and unconstitutional in the eye of the law, but also a violation of the human rights of the woman as no panchayat can deny the entry of a citizen in the village in a unilateral manner. Such type of illegal activities and conduct of the gram panchayat is inhuman. Therefore DC is competent to take action against the Sarpanch. DC has been required to reply within four weeks.
The State Commission for Women (SCW) took note of the diktat and visited the village today. The SCW chairperson, Pratibha Suman, recommended the suspension of the Sarpanch and registration of a criminal case against the panchayat members who were present at the meeting, which took the decision.
For case specific advice on criminal matters related to Haryana Human Rights Commission, one may contact top/best expert Human Rights lawyer/advocates in Chandigarh Panchkula Mohali Zirakpur Derabassi Kharar Mullanpur Baltana.
This post is written by Gaurav Kathuria. More on 99888-17966