With ever-growing instances of so called ‘honour killings’ of couples who married against the wishes of their families or community, the Supreme Court finally elaborated on a person’s right to choose a life partner as a Fundamental Right under Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution. The Bench consisting of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud held conclusively that attempts by Khap Panchayats or any other gathering of persons to obstruct or prevent two consenting adults from marrying is absolutely ‘illegal’.

While hearing Writ filed by an NGO Shakti Vahini seeking directions to the State and Central Governments regarding the issue of crimes in the name of honour and the steps to be taken to tackle such crimes, the Apex Court observed that

“Any kind of torture or torment or ill-treatment in the name of honour that tantamount to atrophy of choice of an individual relating to love and marriage by any assembly, whatsoever nomenclature it assumes, is illegal and cannot be allowed a moment of existence”

During the hearing of the petition, the Central Government clarified that various States and Union Territories are being engaged with to consider proposed and necessary amendments in the IPC and subsequently a proposed bill recommended by the 242nd Law Commission Report titled ‘The Prohibition of Interference with the Freedom of Matrimonial Alliances Bill” was being looked into for possible implementation.

Subsequently and irrefutably, the Supreme Court concluded its judgement, while elaborating and affirming on the aspect of fundamental rights, with a list of preventive and remedial measures to be undertaken by the concerned authorities and also a list of punitive measures for failure on the part of the authorities to act upon such crimes.

 

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Judgment: Shakti Vahini Vs Union of India