Any attack on adult men and women who decide to marry outside their caste is “absolutely illegal”, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday while hearing a plea against khap panchayats, Bar & Bench reported.

“If an adult man and woman marry, no khap, panchayat or society can question them,” a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, according to The Indian Express. The court was hearing a petition filed by NGO Shakti Vahini, which asked that the Centre and state governments be directed to come up with ways to prevent honour crimes.

The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Misra and comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, also asked the Centre to respond quickly on suggestions made by amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran, who is assisting the court in the case.

The court asked the government to come up with ways to prevent the harassment and killing of young couples in the name of honour for marrying outside their castes or within their clans, the Hindustan Times reported.

The court said it would be forced to step in if the Centre does not ban such panchayats, said reports.