Saturday, January 22, 2022
Odisha (Orissa)


Community Law and Criminality

Almost all the castes have the caste panchayat at various levels, at the village in whole or in a small group of villages, in a region and in a few cases for the caste group as a whole. This panchayat of sub-castes elders had the right to supervise the social  interactions  especially in taking of food  and drink from member of other castes  and avoiding sexual contact  with  members of the so called  lower castes. Besides this, the panchayat  used to sit in judgment  on cases of  choice of transgression  of marriage  regulations, divorce, and adultery  cases or in cases of partition in a family and in cases of choice  of occupation  and client etc. Further,

the panchayat was competent  to ostracise members of the sub castes when  they contravened its regulations and injunctions and it could  also prescribe ritual expiations in case of some specific sins committed ( incest, killing a cow, killing of a Brahman, one's wounds getting gangrenous  and infested with maggots-all of which were considered great transgressions). Though the Hindu Raja was the highest court of appeal in social and caste, matters, and he had to rely up on his family Brahman Purohit or the other learned Brahman Pandits, the caste panchayats were left much to themselves and led a semi-autonomous and self-regulatory existence.

Each tribal community had at least a village  council looking after the village affairs, rituals social, economic  and political. Among the Oraons, the Mundas, the Santhals  and the Hos etc., there was an inter-village tribal organisation with a series  of officials holding hereditary positions as periodically  selected. Among the  tribes of Odisha (Orissa) murders are rarely committed for the gain of property. But murder for revenge is rather frequent, as also  murder for jealousy in sex.