Neither parents nor state can intervene when 2 adults decide to marry: SC

Neither parents nor state can intervene when 2 adults decide to marry: SC

Neither parents nor state can intervene when 2 adults decide to marry: SC

The Supreme Court on Monday said none can intervene in a marriage or choice of partners when two adults decide to marry.

The court categorically said that marriages between adults cannot have any third party interference, neither by parents, nor from the state.

The top court came down heavily on the self-appointed 'Khap panchayat' (caste council prevalent in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh), saying they cannot be "conscience-keepers" or guardians of law.

"They are not entitled to be there in law. They have to abandon their kingdom. You have no business to intervene when two adults decide to marry," the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud told a senior counsel, representing such a village council.

The court also indicated that it would order a panel of high-level officers to handle such situations.

The counsel contended that the Khap panchayats were a result of age-old traditions and acted as conscience-keepers of the society.

Inter-caste marriage

"Khap panchayats do encourage inter-caste and inter-religious marriages. We have seen it in Haryana due to skewed sex ratio," he said.

The counsel cited the Hindu Marriage Act provisions to contend that matrimonial alliances were prohibited within five degrees on the father's side and three degrees from the mother's side as such partners are treated as siblings. The court, however, said, "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."

Citing its judgement in the Nitish Katara murder case, the court said, "Two persons marry. They are adults. The matter ends there."

The bench made it clear that whether a marriage was null or void or illegal could be decided by the court under the law.

Activist Madhu Kishwar sought to raise the recent killing in Delhi of Ankit Saxena, allegedly by his girlfriend's family members, but the court said the matter was not before it.

The bench posted the PIL filed by NGO Shakti Vahini for further hearing next Friday. Senior advocate Raju Ramchandran, acting as amicus curiae, said the Khap panchayats can be called "marriage prohibition assembly".