Inter-caste marriages the way forward to reduce communal tensions: Supreme Court

Courts have been coming to the aid of youngsters marrying beyond community norms, says Bench

February 12, 2021 12:46 pm | Updated 12:56 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A view of Supreme Court. File Photo.

A view of Supreme Court. File Photo.

Educated youngsters are showing the way forward to reduce caste and community tensions in India by tying the knot in intermarriages, the Supreme Court said in a judgment.

“Educated younger boys and girls are choosing their life partners, which, in turn, is a departure from the earlier norms of society where caste and community play a major role. Possibly, this is the way forward where caste and community tensions will reduce by such intermarriages,” a Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul said in a recent verdict.

Justice Kaul quoted B.R. Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste , in which the ‘Father of the Constitution’ said, “I am convinced that the real remedy is intermarriage. Fusion of blood can alone create the feeling of being kith and kin, and unless this feeling of kinship, of being kindred, becomes paramount, the separatist feeling—the feeling of being aliens—created by caste will not vanish”.

Even as more and more cases challenging religious conversion laws enacted by several States reach the Supreme Court, Justice Kaul observed in the judgment on February 8 that “consent of the family or community or clan is not necessary once the two adult individuals agree to enter into a wedlock and that their consent has to be piously given primacy”.

He said that the younger generation that chooses to marry beyond the norms of caste and community was facing threats from elders.

“The courts have been coming to the aid of these youngsters,” Justice Kaul noted.

Fundamental right

The Bench, also comprising Justice Hrishikesh Roy, referred to the Hadiya case and the Constitution Bench judgment in which privacy was declared a fundamental right guaranteed in the Constitution.

“Intimacies of marriage lie within a core zone of privacy,” Justice Kaul reproduced the core of the Hadiya case judgment.

“The choice of an individual is an inextricable part of dignity, for dignity cannot be thought of where there is erosion of choice. Such a right or choice is not expected to succumb to the concept of ‘class honour’ or ‘group thinking’,” the Supreme Court held.

The judgment came in a case filed by a lecturer, an MBA graduate who fled from Bengaluru to Delhi to marry a man, an MTech and also an assistant professor.

The investigating officer, on a complaint filed by her relatives, directed her to leave her husband and be present at the police station. She refused, saying they were legally married and it was her choice to do so.

The court quashed the case against the couple and directed the police authorities to not only counsel the investigating officers but device a training programme to deal with such cases for the benefit of the police personnel.

“We expect the police authorities to take action on this behalf in the next eight weeks to lay down some guidelines and training programmes how to handle such socially sensitive cases,” the Supreme Court ordered.

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