Protect such couples against harassment, violence: Bench
• Court issues directive to administration, police throughout country
• Caste system is a curse on the nation; the sooner it is destroyed, the better
• Disapproving parents can at best snap social relations with their children
• Feudal-minded people deserve harsh punishment
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday expressed concern over the growing opposition to, intimidation of, and violence against inter-caste couples. A Bench consisting of Justices Ashok Bhan and Markandey Katju directed the administration and the police throughout the country to extend protection to such couples against harassment and initiate action against those who resorted to or instigated violence.
DISTURBING NEWS : Writing the judgment, Justice Katju said: "The caste system is a curse on the nation and the sooner it is destroyed, the better. In fact, it is dividing the nation at a time when we have to be united to face the challenges before the nation. Hence, inter-caste marriages are in fact in the national interest, as they will result in destroying the caste system. However, disturbing news is coming from several parts that young men and women who unite in inter-caste marriages are threatened with violence, or violence is actually committed on them."
WHOLLY ILLEGAL : Expressing anguish, the Bench said: "Such acts of violence or threats or harassment are wholly illegal and those who commit them must be severely punished. This is a free and democratic country and once a person becomes a major he or she can marry whosoever he or she likes. If the parents of the boy or girl do not approve of an inter-caste or inter-religious marriage, the maximum they can do is to cut off social relations with the son or the daughter, but they cannot give threats or commit or instigate acts of violence and cannot harass the person who opts for inter-caste or inter-religious marriage."
SHAMEFUL ACTS : Referring to instances of killings of such couples, the Bench said: "There is nothing honourable about such killings, and 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."
In the instant case, Lata Singh of Lucknow got married to Bramha Nand Gupta of Delhi, who belonged to a different community. At the instance of the girl's brother, the boy's sisters and their families were arrested and criminal proceedings initiated against them. Ms. Lata Singh moved the Supreme Court seeking to quash the proceedings.
NO BAR : Allowing her petition and quashing the proceedings, the Bench said: "This case reveals a shocking state of affairs. There is no dispute that the petitioner is a major and was at all relevant times a major.'' ``Hence she is free to marry anyone she likes or live with anyone she likes. There is no bar to an inter-caste marriage under the Hindu Marriage Act or any other law. `` Hence, we cannot see what offence was committed by the petitioner, her husband or her husband's relatives."