Supreme Court’s body blow: Khap Panchayats can’t declare marriage between consenting adults illegal

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Updated: March 27, 2018 1:34:53 PM

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Khap panchayats have no right to declare a marriage illegal. The top court noted that it is illegal for Khap panchayats to stop any marriage.

Khap Panchayat, supreme court, illegal marriage, marriage, supreme court, dipak misra, legal marriage, marriage lawDuring the course of hearing, the central government informed the apex court that it will soon introduce a bill in the Parliament to deal with such cases. (PTI)

In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Khap panchayats have no right to declare a marriage illegal. The top court noted that it is illegal for Khap panchayats to stop any marriage.

In a stiff reprimand, the court made it clear that it is unconstitutional for any group or individual to declare a marriage illegal. “Any assembly which is intended to scuttle a marriage of two consenting adults would be illegal,” the SC bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud observed.

During the course of hearing, the central government informed the apex court that it will soon introduce a bill in the Parliament to deal with such cases. The court also laid down guidelines to prevent such interferences and noted that the norms will remain in force till a suitable law is enacted by the Parliament.

The SC made this observation while hearing a petition filed by NGO, Shakti Vahini against Khap panchayats. The NGO had approached the SC in 2010. In its plea, NGO Shakti Vahini urged the SC to pass directions to the Centre and state governments to formulate a law to prevent cases of honour killings.

The SC had earlier this month reserved its order the NGO’s petition. This is not the first time when the court has adopted a tough line against Khap panchayats. Earlier, the court had warned the Khap panchayats against summoning adults and questioning their decision of marriage. The court had also pulled up the Centre for not doing enough to check such cases and noted that it would step in if the government fails to take effective steps from stopping Khap panchayats.

During the proceedings in the matter, the Centre had told the apex court that states must provide proper security to the couples fearing for their lives. Also it had said that such couples should inform the marriage officers about any such threat.

Khap panchayats are caste or community groups and mostly found in villages in western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. They pronounce harsh punishments based on age-old customs. Khap panchayats have grabbed media attention on many occassions in past. In 2014, a Khap panchayat in Uttar Pradesh had banned girls from using mobile phones and wearing jeans, arguing these had a bad effect on them and responsible for crimes.

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