The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has warned the khap (caste) panchayats, saying no one had the right to take the law into their own hands by violating an individual's right to life in the name of tradition.

The issue of amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act, banning same-gotra marriages, was a subject matter of wider debate keeping in view the national perspective on the social, cultural and traditional aspects, as well as an individual's right to liberty as enshrined in the Constitution.

The Commission, in a release here on Thursday, referred to media reports on violence, including murder, in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh of those couple who got married within the same gotra, and said the public authorities were asked to take strict action against the violators of human rights.

The NHRC had taken note of the demand of the Haryana khap panchayats of an amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act, banning the marriages in the same gotra on the ground that such marriages would amount to marriage between a brother and a sister.

It also sought a report from the U.P. government on the violence perpetrated on a young couple in the name of restricting marriage within the same gotra. Many incidents of honour killings on the orders of caste panchayats were reported from Haryana in recent days.

Though khaps, which are traditional and area-based community groups, are not legal entities, they oppose and annul marriages within the same ‘gotra' and order cruel and inhuman punishments to ‘erring' couples. Sometimes the local police remain as mute spectators and, in one instance, a couple (who married from the same gotra) were forcibly taken away despite being under police protection and killed. In another instance, a couple were forced to take pesticides and end their lives for marrying within the same gotra.

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