Case BriefsHigh Courts

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]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madhya Pradesh High Court: Vivek Rusia, J. entertained a writ petition seeking police protection from relatives and members of society for the alleged harassment after the marriage of the petitioners. 

The petitioners contended that, they had entered into the wedlock voluntarily after acquiring majority (age) but the respondents have threatened them of their life and hence, they demand protection from the authorities. 

The learned counsel for the petitioner, R.K. Sharma, submitted that petitioners were harassed because the respondents and alleged members had objection with the valid marriage and the safety of petitioners were at stake due to such threats. It is to be noted that valid age of the petitioners are not in question. 

The counsel relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court, In Lata Singh v. State of U.P., (2006) 5 SCC 475, where it was observed that “this is free and democratic country and once a person becomes a major can marry whoever he or she likes. If the parents of the boy or girl do not approve of such inter-caste or inter-religious marriage the maximum they can do is that they can cut-off social relation with the son or daughter, but they cannot give threats or commit or instigate acts of violence and cannot harass the person who undergoes such inter-caste or inter-religious relationship marriage.” 

Highlighting the matter of ‘Khap Panchayat’ and ‘Honour Killing’ the counsel further submitted that such issues have already been discussed by Supreme Court vividly and were serious matter of concern. State was directed to take preventive and remedial punitive measures to discourage such practices. Emphasizing the judgment of Shakti Vahini v. Union of India, (2018) 7 SCC 192, where the Supreme Court elaborated various measures and directed various agencies of the State in this regard. It was held that “To meet the challenges of the agonizing effect of honour crime, we think that there has to be preventive, remedial and punitive measures and accordingly, we state the broad contours and the modalities with liberty to the executive and the police administration of the concerned States to add further measures to evolve a robust mechanism for the stated purposes”.

The Court, based on the directives of the Supreme Court in Shakti Vahini, allowed the writ and directed the Superintendent of Police to provide security to the petitioners,  also to comply with the orders. [Mitali v. State of M.P., 2019 SCC OnLine MP 795, decided on 09-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

“No authority can stop inter-caste or intersect marriage.”

Meghalaya High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of S.R. Sen, J. allowed a petition while expressing anguish and displeasure over the matter concerning the inter-caste or inter-sect marriage.

In the present case, the petitioner was working as an assistant teacher and was discharging his duties in full satisfaction. On the completion of 3 years and 5 months of service at the same position, the petitioner was verbally asked by respondent 7 to resign from his post and the reason behind the said action was that “the petitioner had married a lady from a different denomination which belonged to the Roman Catholic Church”.

For the above-said facts, petitioner had filed a written complaint to respondent 3 stating the discrimination actions. On acting in regard to the complaint filed, in the month of July 2018 petitioner was asked to come to the office of respondent 3 in which petitioner was given an assurance that the matter would be taken up, but till date, no positive response has been received. Petitioner was forced to resign from his post without any semblance of any complaint which was in gross violation of the principles of natural justice. Hence, the instant petition was filed by the petitioner.

Counsel for the petitioner Mr P Nongbri stated that respondent’s 7 and 8 refused to accept the notice of the Court. Further learned GA  Mr K. Baruaa ppearing on behalf of respondent 1-6 stated that government also issued a show cause notice but respondent’s 7 and 8 chose to remain silent on the same.

Thus, the High Court, while relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in Arumugam Servai v. State of Tamil Nadu, (2011) 6 SCC 405 in which it was stated that:

“Caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed the better. Inter-caste marriages are in fact in the national interest as they will result in destroying the caste system.”

The bench in the stated decision observed that:

“We sometimes hear of ‘honour’ killings of such persons who undergo inter-caste or inter-religious marriage of their own free will. There is nothing honorable in such killings; in fact, they are nothing but barbaric and shameful acts of murder committed by brutal, feudal minded persons who deserve harsh punishment. Only in this way can we stamp out such acts of barbarism.”

Therefore, in the present case, the bench expressed shock that in the 21st century such a narrow outlook is still being carried out. Respondent’s 7 and 8 were directed to reinstate the petitioner immediately without any further delay and to clear all his dues, salary and other benefits along with a compensation of Rs 50,000 to be paid to the petitioner. [Dasuklang Kharjana v. State of Meghalaya, 2018 SCC OnLine Megh 287, decided on 20-12-2018]