Divorce granted by khap panchayats not valid: SC
New Delhi: Divorce between estranged couple
approved by khap panchayats (caste council) will have no legal
sanctity, the Supreme Court has ruled.
A Bench of Justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan upeld an
Allahabad High Court judgement that had quashed a Varanasi
Family Court's ruling that divorce between Mahendra Nath Yadav
and Sheela Devi had become effective since it had been
approved by the khap panchayat.
"The High Court has rightly held that dissolution of
marriage through panchayat as per custom prevailing in that
area and in that community cannot be a ground for granting
divorce under Section 13 (desertion or cruelty) of the Act,
"We fully agree with the said decision for the reason
that in case the appellant wanted a decree on the basis of
customary dissolution of marriage through panchayat held on
7th June, 1997, he would not have filed a petition under
Section 13 of the Act, 1955. Filing this petition itself means
that none of the parties was of the view that the divorce
granted by the panchayat was legal. In view of the above, we
do not see any reason to interfere with the well-reasoned
judgment of the High Court," the apex court said in its order.
The apex court passed the order while dismissing the
appeal of Yadav, an armyman challenging the High Court's
decision to quash the decree of divorce granted by the family
court in September 2000, on the basis of a panchayat decision.
The estranged wife Sheela Devi was however, not willing