A divorce approved by a khap panchayat does not have any legal sanctity and cannot be a ground for any family court to grant legal separation to an estranged couple, the Supreme Court has held.
Upholding an Allahabad High Court judgment, a bench quashed a family court order that granted divorce to Mahendra Nath Yadav from his wife on the ground that their separation was approved by a khap panchayat.
Yadav and his wife had approached the panchayat for divorce as it was required under customary laws.
The apex court bench said: "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, 1955."
The court disallowed Yadav's request to restore the family court order. It noted that even the petitioner was aware that the khap panchayat's decision was not legal and, therefore, moved the court for a formal court decree.
"Filing this petition itself means that none of the parties was of the view that the divorce granted by the panchayat was legal," the court added.