The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgment on a plea filed by NGO Shakti Vahini, alleging interference by khap panchayats in inter-caste and inter-faith marriages, but it reaffirmed its stance that when two consenting adults decide to marry, no one has the right to interfere, Live Law reported.
The court was hearing Shakti Vahini’s 2010 petition, which asked for a ban on khap panchayats or self-appointed village councils.
On Wednesday, the Centre told the court that all states will set up special units to protect couples who marry outside their castes, News18 reported. The government has also asked couples to inform it if they are being threatened, when they register their marriages.
The Centre said the police will be told to take strict action against anyone targeting such couples.
When the counsel for the khap panchayats said that in most cases of honour killings, the families of the couples were responsible, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar said, “We are not interested.”
The court has repeatedly taken a hard stance against village councils interfering with inter-caste and inter-faith marriages. In earlier hearings of the case, the bench condemned khap panchayats for inciting violence and said it is illegal for them to behave like “conscience keepers of society”. The court had also directed the Centre to do more to curb honour killings.