Jammu & Kashmir High Court: Dhiraj Singh Thakur, J. directed the respondents to ensure the protection of life and liberty of the petitioners as they were under constant threat of their family members for marrying outside their castes.
The petitioners had attained the age of majority and were married out of their own free will and without any undue threat or coercion. They had documents reflecting the marriage on record and their age proof. They stated that despite having married each other with their own free will and consent, the private respondents through the agency of police may try to harass them and get them framed in false cases.
The Court relied on the Supreme Court’s decision in Lata Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 5 SCC 475 and held that the petitioners were free to marry anyone they like. There is no bar to an inter-caste marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act or any other law.
The Court held that, “disturbing news are coming from several parts of the country that young men and women who undergo inter-caste marriage, are threatened with violence, or violence is actually committed on them. In our opinion, such acts of violence or threats or harassment are wholly illegal and those who commit them must be severely punished.” The Court further directed the administration/police authorities to see to it that the couple is not harassed by anyone nor subjected to threats or acts of violence. Anyone who gives such threats or harasses or commits acts of violence either himself or at his instigation is taken to task by instituting criminal proceedings by the police against such persons and further stern action is taken against such persons as provided by law.[Vinod Kumar v State of J&K, 2019 SCC OnLine J&K 669, decided on 22-07-2019]