NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a PIL seeking amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act to ban same ‘gotra’ marriages, a plea that was earlier raised by khap panchayats that got support from political circles in Haryana. A vacation bench comprising justices Deepak Verma and K S Radhakrishnan told petitioner Naresh Kadyan’s counsel K T S Tulsi that his client would do better to move the high court concerned which had the power and jurisdiction to decide the issue.

When Tulsi argued that the issues raised in the petition had a pan-Indian appeal, the bench said the HC could decide such matters. This made Tulsi to request withdrawal of the PIL. The bench allowed that with liberty to the petitioner to raise the issue afresh before the HC.

Though the SC refused to entertain the PIL on amendment to HMA, another PIL by NGO ‘Shakti Vahini’ was filed in the apex court seeking protection for couples facing threat from khap panchayats for marrying against prevailing social norms.

Seeking a direction to the Centre and the states of Punjab, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, where honour killings have been practised in one form or the other, the petitioner NGO said it was time the governments at the Centre and the states thought of taking preventive measures against this social evil.

“Such crimes include battery, torture, mutilation, rape, forced marriage, imprisonment within the home and even murder. These crimes are intended to protect the family honour by preventing and punishing women for allegedly violating community norms of behaviour, particularly sexual behaviour. Women have been abducted, arrested or raped and are often blamed for shaming their families. Reasons for honour killings can be as trivial as talking to a man, or as innocent as suffering rape. These crimes are often collective and premeditated,” it said.

The NGO said states should constitute a special cell in each district where couples could approach for safety that should lead to active prosecution of those responsible for honour killings.

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