Khap panchayats can't stop adults from marrying: Supreme Court
Coming down heavily on self-proclaimed khap panchayats, the Supreme Court today termed as "absolutely illegal" any attack by them or their associates against adult men and women opting for inter-caste marriage.
"If an adult man and woman marry, no khap panchayat or society can question them," the Supreme Court bench ruled, which is also expected to suggest guidelines to rein in the khap panchayats.
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.
In August last year, a Supreme Court bench had agreed to deliberate on the constitutional validity of khap panchayats, mostly present in Haryana but also found in other parts of northern India.
The Supreme Court is hearing a petition moved by an NGO called Shakti Vahini, which has questioned the legal validity of various honour killing orders passed by khap panchayats in Haryana and western UP.
The NGO had moved the Supreme Court in 2010, seeking directions to the central and state governments to prevent and control honour killings and other crimes.