No society can question if an adult man and woman opt for an inter-caste marriage:  Supreme Court on 'khaps'

The observation was being made by a bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra which was hearing a plea seeking guidelines on how to stop ‘honour killings’.

Published: 05th February 2018 01:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 06th February 2018 06:27 AM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court of India (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Coming down heavily on Khap Panchayats, the Supreme Court on Monday told them not to play the role of conscience keeper of the society and questioned how can they become guardians of the law as marriages between two adults will not have any third party interference, neither from the parents nor the state.

A bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said, “When two adults get married, no third party should interfere in the marriage. Not even the state, you (Khap) don’t have to play the conscience keeper of the society. Law and courts will take care of all relationships.”

They also said they were considering appointing a high-level police committee to devise ways and means to protect inter-caste, inter-faith, or similarly opposed married couples and keep them safe from violence.
The bench further added that even the parents of the two adults have no right to interfere or threaten. Khaps are caste or community organisations in villages which at times act as quasi-judicial bodies and pronounce harsh punishments based on regressive and age-old customs and traditions.

The bench asked the government represented by Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand to come up with effective suggestions in connection with the protection of couples over various cases of honour killings and other forms of persecution ordered by the khap panchayats. “Who appointed the khap or anyone as the guardian of law? The law shall take its own course,” CJI remarked adding, “It is completely for the courts to decide whether a marriage is tenable in law or not.”

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to the Uttar Pradesh police on Monday after taking suo motu cognizance of media reports that a man with no criminal record was shot at by a trainee sub inspector in Noida.

The Uttar Pradesh chief secretary and the police chief were directed to personally look into the matter and to submit a report within six weeks.

On February 3 night, Devendra Yadav was shot in the throat by a trainee sub-inspector in Noida sector 122.  According to the police, prima facie it appeared to be a case of personal animosity.  But Yadav’s family has alleged it was a case of fake encounter. The 25-year-old man is battling for his life at a hospital.
Highlighting the series of encounters in the state and chief minister Yogi Aditynath seemingly endorsing such style, the NHRC said the police were feeling free, misusing their power in the light of “an undeclared
endorsement given by the higher ups”.

“They are using their privileges to settle scores with the people. The police force is to protect the people, these kind of incidents would send a wrong message to the society. Creating an atmosphere of fear is not the correct way to deal with the crime,” the NHRC said in a statement.  “In this particular case, the injured man is not an offender. He was travelling with his friends when the rowdy act done by the delinquent SI has gravely violated his right to life and liberty.”

According to eyewitness, Yadav was shot by the cop in the backseat of his car when the victim and his friends stopped for pizza at a roadside eatery.  Four policemen were suspended and the trainee sub-inspector was sent to a jail.  

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