Important Judgment of the Supreme Court of India
In this column, a brief report on an important judgment of the Supreme Court of India will be given, which has a bearing on human rights.
On the 27th March,2018, the Supreme Court gave a landmark ruling in the Writ Petition (Civil) No.231 of 2010- Shakti Vahini v Union of India & ors that any attempt by Khap Panchayats or any other assembly to scuttle or preventing two consenting adults from marrying is absolutely 'illegal' and laid down preventive, remedial and punitive measures in this regard. The court's judgment came on a petition filed by a non-government organisation (NGO) Shakti Vahini in 2010. The petitioner had sought directions to States and the Centre to put in place a plan to curb honour killings.
The 54 page judgment was delivered by the three-judges' bench comprising the Chief Justice of India, Mr. Justice Dipak Misra, Mr. Justice A.M Khanwilkar and D.Y Chandrachud. The court held, "the criminal cases pertaining to honour killing or violence to the couple(s) shall be tried before the designated Court/Fast Track Court earmarked for that purpose. The trial must proceed on day to day basis to be concluded preferably within six months from the date of taking cognizance of the offence. We may hasten to add that this direction shall apply even to pending cases. The concerned District Judge shall assign those cases, as far as possible, to one jurisdictional court so as to ensure expeditious disposal thereof."
The judgment also says that Khap panchayats should not take the law into their hands and cannot assume the character of a law implementing agency for that authority has not been conferred upon them under any law.
Khaps are caste and community based assemblies - usually comprising elderly men from the Jat community - in northern parts of India that have a say on several issues, including marriage, dowry and the education of children, based on traditional customs.