The first ever action against the illegal Khap Panchayats was taken by the administration in Haryana's Bhiwani district on Monday, by suspending two village Panchayat members, including the sarpanch for taking an unconstitutional decision.

Panchayat Sarpanch Surender and member Ramesh of Samaspur village in Bhiwani, 300 km from here, were placed under suspension under section 51(1)(a) of Haryana Panchayati Raj Act, 1994, for declaring void the marriage of a couple.

The duo organised the Panchayat of 'Faugat Gotra' on February 26 and March 3 and directed the couple to annul their marriage and instructed the community to socially boycott the family of Randhir Singh, the father of the groom. The two members have been charged with treating marriage as an issue of dispute of 'gotras' (sub-castes) and inciting people against it, violating the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Bhiwani Deputy Commissioner Vikas Gupta, on Monday, said that both the members were directed to submit the funds of their panchayat, the records and moveable and immoveable property to the authorities concerned and not to attend any meeting of the Samaspur Panchayat.

Mr Gupta said the Bhiwani police submitted a report on 10th March that Bhagwan, a resident of village Samaspur, had married Anita of village Makrani on January 11 at the Arya Samaj Mandir in Jaipur. However, the Samaspur Panchayat announced the marriage void since both the groom and the bride belonged to the same gotra, and also provoked people against this marriage. Gupta said that the Panchaya's decision was in violation of the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and could have led to a serious law and order problem.

The rising number of controversial and illegal decisions being announced by Khap Panchayats in Haryana in recent years, especially against same gotra marriages has made the state administration act against them. The Rohtak district administration has urged the khap Panchayats to desist from pronouncing 'atrocious and anti-society decisions' in future and to instead work for the welfare of the society.

The Panchayats claim to work in order to restore the social environment according to certain norms and violations of the norms have led the khaps to expel the couples and their families from the villages, force them to sell their land and property, humiliating the fathers of the bride and the bridegroom in the public by forcing shoes in their mouths. They have even ordered the execution of the couples or the bridegrooms. Such orders have often been implemented in spite of getting security on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and even in the presence of the police.

It is also believed that decisions are also taken for settling personal scores, family feuds, defeat in the Panchayat elections and to give vent to their jealousy with the prosperity of the better off families and also by their desire to grab their land and property by expelling such families from the village.