NEW DELHI: The Centre told the Supreme Court on Wednesday that state governments must provide protection to couples fearing for their lives due to inter-caste or interfaith marriages, and such couples should inform marriage officers of any such threat while registering their marriage so that they could be protected.
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand also told a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra that the Centre was bringing a law to make honour killing a cognizable offence as it sought directions for prompt police action and criminal prosecution of the guilty.The court said it would pass a detailed judgement on a plea filed by NGO Shakti Vahini, which had moved the apex court in 2010 seeking protection of couples from honour killings.
“When two consenting adults get married irrespective of their background, no relative or third person can oppose or interfere with violence or threat to their life,” the bench said.In an indication that it would not recognise ‘khap panchayats’, the apex court said it would refer to them only as an assembly of persons or as a community group.
‘Khap panchayats’ are caste or community groups that function largely in rural areas of north India, and at times act as quasi-judicial bodies and pronounce harsh punishments based on age-old customs.
On February 5, the court had said that a ‘khap panchayat’ could not act as the conscience-keeper of the society.