Khaps cannot interfere in marriage of consenting adults, rules Supreme Court

In an “unlimited direction” to parents, society and khap panchayats (community groups), the Supreme Court on 27 March 2018 ruled that interference, harm or insult caused to consenting adults who fall in love and choose to marry is absolutely illegal.

With this judgment, the court has filled the vacuum caused by the lack of a specific penal law against hon our killings. In previous hearings on a petition filed by NGO Shakti Vahini, a Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had repeatedly emphasized that no one has any individual, group or collective right to harass a couple.

The Chief Justice has said it is up to the courts to decide legally whether a marriage is null and void, or if children are legitimate or illegitimate; “no other person or group” have the right to intervene. He had argued that the objection of khaps about marriages between people from the same gotra is upheld in Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. The section said the “sapinda should be removed by five degrees from the father’s side and by three degrees from the mother’s side.”

The Center recommended that the State governments should take responsibility for the lives of couples who fear retaliation. They should be housed in special protection homes, away from danger. No person or assembly of persons shall harass, torture, subject to violence, threaten, intimidate or cause harm to any couple wishing to get married by their own choice or couple who have got married.

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