New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked khap panchayats not to behave like the conscience keeper of society, pointing out that a marriage between two adults was governed by the law.
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud said it would set up a high-level committee consisting of senior police officers to deal with issues relating to intervention in marriages by bodies such as khap panchayats.
”Whether the law prohibits or allows a particular marriage, the law will take its own course. Don't be the conscience keeper (of society),” the bench said.
The observation came when a counsel representing a khap panchayat said it had been encouraging inter-caste and inter- faith marriages and referred to provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act which prohibit a union between 'sapinda' relationships or close blood relatives among Hindus.
The lawyer said the khap had been performing its duties as the conscience keeper of society.
”We are on a very fundamental issue. The marriage is between two adults and it is their choice. You cannot take the law into your own hands,” the bench said, adding that khaps had “no business” (in such matters).
The bench also referred to several judgments including the one passed in the sensational Nitish Katara murder case and said, “Two persons marry. They are adults. The matter ends.”
The bench made it clear that whether a marriage was null or void or illegal could be decided by the court under the law.
When activist Madhu Kishwar attempted to raise the issue of the recent killing in Delhi of Ankit Saxena, allegedly by his girlfriend's family members, the court said the matter was not before it.
The bench has now fixed the PIL filed by NGO Shakti Vahini for a further hearing next Friday.
”We will constitute a high-level committee of senior police officers to handle this (issue),” the court said.