The Khap Panchayat and The Freedom to Love: SC

The Supreme Court today while dealing with a petition filed in 2010 by an NGO Shakti Vahini, talked about the concept of falling in love and marrying their chosen one.

There have been incidents of violence against the couple, who choose their own life and way forward, defying the rules and norms laid down by the community and the society. Such incidents are known as honour killing where the couple’s peaceful co-existence and individual lives are put to danger just because they went against the rules laid down by their fathers, brothers and their community.

The famous Khap Panchayats of the villages, which have on several occasions used the mandate of the village to scuttle not only the individual freedom, but also have acted as a bar to prevent any maturity on the part of the elders of the community over issues that call for evolution with time, but are dear to them due to age old cherished beliefs and customs.

The tyranny of the Khap Panchayats continues to be one of the kind which transgresses to the levels of intolerance, for example the occasions where the Panchayats banned the use of cellphones by young girls and wearing of jeans or skin fit lower garments were barred. There have even such situations where Panchayats have assumed the roles of a Family Court, thereby adjudicating the potency of the spouses,or annulling the marriage completely.

This does not end here when they, in the name of honour conjure the people to meddle with an inter-religious marriage or an inter-caste marriage. Such occasions are seen to have happened on many occasions. This does not only happen in the villages, but also is a feature in Tier-2 cities of India that are a home to the most rapidly evolving population in the country, not to mention the Tier-3 cities.

The social intolerance breeds high in various communities and the woman/girl who chooses to take a  man from another caste as her partner for life, is often subjected to the illusory honour that surrounds the girl, and is destructive to the father and the brother,or rather the entire family, and the community too.

It is a very simple expression of homogamous marriages being exaggerated to an extent where it becomes impossible for the people to accept the individual freedom of the girl and the boy involved.

The halo of honour has led to several couples living in a situation of spite and threat, or even getting killed which has not been monitored by the Police. The Police is not most of the times aware of any such threat, because such couples live under the belief that law would not aid their association, while the Supreme Court in  the spirit of giving a sigh of relief to such lovers, has allowed them to live, without fear, though there may  be no law, yet the concept shall be evolved.

The bench comprising of the Chief Justice, and Justice DY Chandrachud, and AM Khanwiljar, has done a great job, yet the evolution of the principles need various quarters to walk in for a more productive approach to the controversies that surround love marriages in India.

 

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