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Khap Panchayats get Supreme Court warning over 'honour killings' in India

Khap Panchayats get Supreme Court warning over 'honour killings' in India

No one, either individually or collectively, has the right to interfere in a marriage between two consenting adults, a Supreme Court bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Dipak Misra said on Monday. The petition has asked the Court to put a ban on "khaap panchayat" and other self-appointed village courts of several parts of India, especially Haryana, which take it upon themselves and act like a law to protect the medieval-era traditions, and "punish" couples who marry against their family's will. It said khaps or panchayats or parents cannot resort to violence against the couple. "Neither parents, society, khap or panchayat.no one at all", the bench that also comprised Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud observed.

The counsel cited the Hindu Marriage Act provisions to contend that matrimonial alliances were prohibited within five degrees on the father's side and three degrees from the mother's side as such partners are treated as siblings. "What we are concerned is that if an adult girl or boy gets into marriage, no khap, no individual or no society can question them".

Chief Justice Dipak Misra took offence to the counsel of the khap panchayats submitting that his clients were acting as "conscience keepers" of the society and told him, "Don't be conscience keepers". If a marriage is not permissible under law, there are courts to annul it. Khaps have no business determining the legality of a marriage.

Earlier, the top court had termed as "absolutely illegal" any attack by "khap panchayats" or their associates against adult couples opting for inter-caste marriage. The apex court also asked the petitioners and the Central government to come up with potent suggestions to tackle the khap panchayats and crimes committed by them. The bench made it clear that even the parents of the two adults have no right to "interfere or threaten".

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The CJI retorted, "Law will take its own course". But you keep out of it. We are not concerned with the sapinda or gotra.

"We can't say which marriage is null or void, which marriage is good or bad. just stay out of it", Misra said.

The Bench has granted time to Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, till February 16 - the next date of hearing in the case - to file the centre's response to Ramachandran's report stating that this is a "serious issue".


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