- Two adults are free to marry and “no third party” has a right to harass or cause harm to them, said Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, speaking against honour killings.
- The court was hearing a petition filed by Shakti Vahini, an NGO, to make honour killing a specific crime.
- “When two people get into wedlock, no one should interfere. Neither parents, society, khap or panchayat… no one at all,” said Justice Misra, leading a three-judge Bench that upheld the fundamental right of two people who wish to marry and live peacefully.
- He argued that the objection of khaps to marriages between people from the same gotra was upheld in Section 5 of the Hindu Marriage Act of 1955. The section said “ sapinda should be removed by five degrees from the father’s side and by three degrees from the mother’s side.
- The Chief Justice repeated that no one has any individual, group or collective right to harass a couple.
Freedom of adults
But the Chief Justice said the court was not concerned about khap panchayats either. “We are not writing an essay here on traditions, lineages, etc. We are only concerned with the freedom of adults to marry and live together without facing harassment,” the Chief Justice said.
What is Honour killing?
- Honour killing is defined as the killing of a relative, especially a girl or woman, who is perceived to have brought dishonour on the family.
- India registered 251 honour killings in 2015, recording a big spike in murders carried out by people professing to be acting in defence of their family’s reputation.
- It involves the murder of a woman or girl by male family members.
- Honour killings have been reported in northern regions of India, mainly in the Indian states of Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh as a result of people marrying without their family’s acceptance, and sometimes for marrying outside their caste or religion.
- Honour killings are also widespread in South India and the western Indian states of Maharashtra and Gujarat.