Khap Panchayats can’t interfere in marriages of adults: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court held that every adult has right to marry anyone and nobody including parents, khap panchayats or similar associations can question their choice of spouse.
It also ruled that any kind of attack and interference on such adults opting for marriage, especially inter-caste marriage as ‘absolutely illegal’. The case has been listed for further hearing in February 2018.
The apex court asked Central Government to give its response on suggestions given by senior advocate on ways to prevent harassment and killing of young couples in name of family honour who opt for inter-caste marriages. It also issued strict direction to government to control such attacks. It also warned Central Government that if it does not act towards banning Khap Panchayats then, it will step in.
The SC was hearing petition filed against khap panchayats by NGO Shakti Vahini in 2010 seeking directions to Centre and state governments for preventing honour crimes. Earlier it had sought suggestions from Shakti Vahini, amicus curiae and khap panchayats on the issue. It also had invited khap panchayats to hear their views before issuing order to stop them from harassing and killing couples and women in the name of honour.
Khaps are caste or community organisations representing clan or group of related clans. They frequently make pronouncements on social issues and have often landed in controversies owing to their diktats.