The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it was time “society learns to accept intercaste and interfaith marriages”, adding adults have the right to choose their life partners.
The court made the observations while hearing a case of an intercaste marriage from Karnataka; the woman is from Karnataka and the man from Uttar Pradesh.
A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Hrishikesh Roy also observed that it would “hardly be a desirable social exercise” for parents to shun their children for marrying outside their caste or community.
The court also emphasised on counselling and training for police personnel on ways to handle cases of intercaste marriage, saying they were “duty-bound” to protect such couples.
“Educated young boys and girls are increasingly choosing their life partner on their own,” the SC said. That “might be viewed as a deviation by the society and parents, but the police authorities are duty bound to keep such couples out of harm’s way if there is no violation of the law”.
The Karnataka couple approached the top court after a case was lodged by the woman’s family. The parents of the woman had initially lodged a missing persons complaint after the couple eloped.
Advocate Prabhat Kumar Rai, representing the couple, said the Belgavi police should not have lodged an FIR since there was no cognisable offence indicated in the complaint.
The couple work as lecturers in a university.
BJP-led governments in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh recently brought in laws that make marriages for the sole purpose of religious conversion illegal. Himachal Pradesh already has such a law in place.