Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)
Khap attacks on couples illegal: SC
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday warned it would step in if the government didn’t bring a law to ban illegal activities of khap panchayats, saying no one had the right to question an adult’s choice of a marriage partner.
Attacks on those opting for inter-caste marriage were “absolutely illegal” and khap panchayats cannot threaten adult women and men for marrying each other, the court said.
“If they are not bringing a law, we will develop the concept and see to that these types of illegal activities are not carried out,” a bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, pulling up the government for not responding to an eight-year-old petition seeking a ban on khap panchayats.
Khaps are caste or community groups that wield considerable influence in rural areas of north India. They are known to hold kangroo courts that dissolve marriages, dictate dress code, mostly to women, ban cellphones and even force rape victims into marrying rapists. Their opposition to marriages on the basis of caste or religion has also led to murders.
When the bench took up the matter, a khap leader present in the court said it was incorrect to term the village body illegal.
Khaps were changing and should be heard before passing an order, he said. “What we are concerned is about the rights of an adult girl or boy. They can get involved in a marriage. No panchayat, individual, society, or parents can question it,” the court said.