The Supreme Court of India ruled on Tuesday that Khap panchayat or any informal body’s interference in marriages between two consenting adults is plain illegal. The SC bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud observed that while the central government works on a bill to deal with such cases, the court will lay down guidelines to prevent such interferences until then.

Taking a strict stand on Khap’s interference in inter-caste marriages the bench said that, “Wherever there is any kind of collective attack on an adult boy or an adult girl, because they chose their life partners, it is absolutely illegal.” The Supreme Court’s strict words are necessary in times when self-proclaimed guardians of culture are going around ending marriages they don’t approve of in a violent way.

Age old dictates are marring the youth’s right to choose

Khap’s opposition to inter-racial, inter-caste or marriages in the same gotra, stems from a belief that the weight to sustain Indian culture falls entirely on their shoulders.

In most interior parts of Northern India, a khap ruling is the law of the land. In fact, people take their verdict more seriously than the law itself.

Modern India still has its reservations about marital alliances which happen outside of religious, familial and social approval. Every individual has a right to choose his or her life partner. No social body should have any authority to stop or denounce a marriage between two consenting adults. Yet every year we hear about couples who are torn apart by local bodies like Khap, because such a union is an attack on their beliefs, but separation is not the worst fate for these couples.

The Supreme Court has to protect our youths’ right to choose a life partner

According to the NGO Shakti Vahini, at least 288 cases of honour killing were reported from Haryana, Punjab, Himachal, Delhi, UP and Bihar and other states between 2014 and 2016.

(As per an article from The Economic Times.)

It is high time that the central government expedite the bill to protect the youth’s right to choose life partners. Our governing bodies, police authorities and lawmakers need to be on the same page. Else, young couples at loggerheads with Khaps, will always have to keep looking over their shoulders.

We also cannot overlook one important factor which gives khap panchayats the power that they wield. The support they get from local people allows them to take such life-altering decisions for youngsters.

This also gives rise to a very important question, even if our parliament manages to pass stricter legislation how effective is it going to be?

Picture credit: supremecourt.nic.in

Also Read :Khap Threatens SC says, “don’t interfere or will stop giving birth to girls”

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are author’s own.

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