Khaps can not interfere in marriages, can not even hold meeting for it

The Supreme Court has repeatedly adopted a tough line against interference by khap panchayats in inter-caste and inter-faith marriages and advised them against behaving like the conscience keepers of society

Hours after Supreme Court landmark judgement banning khap panchayats interference in adult marriages, heads of khap panchayats said they will not allow marriages within same gotras or villages.

The court said that any kind of torture or torment or ill-treatment in the name of honour, amounts to "atrophy" of an individual's choice relating to love and marriage and such "vicious" crimes by any assembly, under any name, "is illegal and can not be allowed a moment of existence".

The Court took both State and police to task by directing that despite complaint, if a honour crime takes place, the concerned police officer will be departmentally proceeded with and punished within six months.

Misra had said that under the law, when two people marry, no third party could interfere in an individual or collective capacity.

In 2007, a Haryana court had awarded death to five people and sentenced one person to life for killing a couple on the orders of a self-styled "khap panchayat" for marrying against societal norms.

It said any kind of torture or torment or ill-treatment in the name of honour, amounts to "atrophy" of an individual's choice relating to love and marriage and such "vicious" crimes by any assembly, under any name, "is illegal and can not be allowed a moment of existence".

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It need be mentioned that various inter-faith/inter-caste couples have been facing threats and difficulties due to interference from these "khap panchayats".

Holding that right of a person to get married with one's choice can not be smothered by family or community members on the basis of extra-constitutional perception of class honour, the Supreme Court on Tuesday passed a slew of directions to protect such couples facing threat to their life from Khap Panchayat and family members for marrying with a person of other caste and religion.

The judgment by the country's top court underscores the prevalence of "khap panchayats" that act as defacto courts and have sanctioned the killings of young couples, campaigners said. They were, however, wary of marriages among sapinda relationships or close blood relatives among Hindus. He submitted that khaps do not approve honour killings, adding that "custom is not above a human life". The court will decide whether a marriage should be annulled or not the Khaps couldn't take matters into their own hands.

The government had acknowledged that "honour killing was neither separately defined or classified as an offence under the prevailing laws".

There will be special cells in every district created by the state governments.

The top court had also said that as a pilot project, it would examine the situation in three districts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh where Khap Panchayats were active.

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